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Our Opinion: Follow fireworks laws this Fourth

Our Opinion: Follow fireworks laws this Fourth

June 27th, 2018 by News Tribune in Opinion

This year, don't let a perfect Fourth of July celebration turn into a panicked trip to the hospital.

You've likely already seen the fireworks tents pop up outside the city limits. Shooting fireworks to celebrate our nation's independence is a longstanding tradition.

And we're not saying you shouldn't do it, although our city does offer one of the best fireworks displays in the state on the evening of the Fourth of July. It's free, it's safe, and you can watch it with a few thousand of your closest friends on the grounds of the Capitol.

However, if you do decide to celebrate with your own fireworks, keep in mind that it's illegal to shoot them off within city limits. If you own property in the county, you're free to ignite them there.

The Jefferson City fire and police departments said they will be in neighborhoods enforcing city ordinances preventing the use of fireworks. Each year, they also issue summonses to appear in court for people they see violating the law.

If you do use fireworks, do so where it's legal, and make safety a priority.

The agencies said Independence Day celebrations nationwide result in more than 10,000 injuries annually. The associated risks of using fireworks include fires, devastating burns, other injuries, and significant impacts to family pets. Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.

Sky lanterns are another concern. Like other fireworks, they're illegal to release inside the city limits. However, that hasn't stopped some people from using the pretty-but-potentially-dangerous items.

Once a sky lantern is lit, the hot air lifts it into the air.

The flaming lantern can travel more than a mile from its starting point.

Wind can affect the sky lantern, blowing the sides, forcing the hot air out and sending it back to the ground, while still burning. A flaming lantern can drop onto a rooftop, field, trees or power lines before the flame is fully extinguished. A destructive fire can result when a flaming lantern reaches the ground during dry conditions.

Obviously, sky lanterns are potential fire hazards beyond other fireworks.

We urge you to avoid them, and to follow the fireworks laws in general.