Fired up

7/1/2013

Public fireworks shows offer safe and entertaining option.

Public fireworks shows offer safe and entertaining option.

As usual, it's dry and hot.

With the Fourth of July drawing near, let's hope people take time to consider the conditions if they decide to set off fireworks and other pyrotechnics.

Safe use of fireworks has been a hot topic for years. Commissioners from Garden City and Finney County, along with Holcomb city representatives, routinely address the fire risk of setting off fireworks. In rural parts in particular, one errant spark could start a dangerous and costly grass fire.

The issue has been in how to regulate, control and enforce the misuse of fireworks — and whether enforcement even is effective.

Ideally, more local residents would exercise personal responsibility by taking the danger into consideration during the holiday. Statewide statistics point to the need for such caution.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal received word of 197 fireworks-related injuries in Kansas during the week of the Fourth of July last year,

The state agency also reported 199 miscellaneous fires directly related to fireworks between May and August in 2011 in Kansas. The toll on personal and commercial properties included 26 structure fires and 10 vehicle fires related to fireworks use during that time — all cause for officials to do what they can to encourage safety.

Beyond the obvious threat to people and property, fireworks create other problems. Anyone determined to ignite noisy fireworks and other novelties should know that doing so at all hours annoys people trying to sleep — even in the county — and sends frightened pets scurrying from their homes.

And every time emergency responders are called because of a fireworks-related problem, there's a cost to taxpayers.

Everyone should celebrate Independence Day with gusto. As activities unfold, no one wants a negative outcome.

So, with little relief from the dry conditions in sight, local and area residents should consider scaling down their own fireworks plans in favor of such public displays as Garden City's annual Fourth of July fireworks show.

Free, public fireworks shows, after all, offer more than enough to satisfy most anyone interested in a spectacular, star-spangled — and safe — celebration on the nation's birthday.

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