LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Fourth of July weekend just days away means the sights and sound of fireworks. The two go hand and hand. But each summer in the U.S., more than 200 people are injured a day because of them.
2020 saw record fireworks sales despite lockdowns. Good weather and more gatherings this year could mean even more light shows.
"We're from New York where the fireworks are kind of less legal, so when we come to states that we're able to set them off, we like to have fun," said Rick Hammack.
But the stories of close calls from amateurs just looking to have fun aren't hard to come by.
"One flew right into the trees right above us when the wind caught it, and then it started a fire kind of in the canopy of the tree and it luckily it died down, but if it would have been more windy ... it could have been a lot worse," he said.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said 18 people died in fireworks incidents in 2020. An estimated 15,600 people went to the emergency department at a hospital for treatment for fireworks injuries.
Battalion Chief Jordan Saas with the Lexington Fire Department says many of those incidents could have been avoided. There hasn't been a Fourth of July gone by without a call to them for help.
"A lot of what we see in terms of fires on the Fourth of July is that people don't completely extinguish their fireworks materials," said Saas. "And so, what they'll use is they'll use the safe insane type of fireworks, which is the type of firework that does not go up or blow up because those are illegal in Fayette County. And they will use them like a sparkler, and then they'll throw them in their trash can, then they'll move their trash can, next to their house."
One of the most popular fireworks every year is sparklers. People like to give them to their kids because they're tiny. But if you drop them on the ground or in dry grass, that can be dangerous. Once they're done being lit, firefighters say people should put them in a bucket of water.
"Having responded to a fireworks fire that proved resulted in a large grass fire myself, it can get out of hand very quickly," said Saas. "And so, it's important to be cognizant of where you do it, so maybe the middle of a parking lot that's empty street obviously looking, looking out for traffic, maybe at the end of your driveway."
If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll. Children should not be unsupervised. There should always be adult supervision. Supervise children with fireworks, even sparklers. Keep a bucket of water handy and make sure people are out of range. Finally, light away from the house and flammable materials.
If it goes up or blows up, it is illegal in Fayette County.
The only fireworks allowed to be sold or used in Fayette County are ground and hand-held sparkling devices, such as sparklers, ground spinners, and fountains. You can be cited and given a $250 ticket.