By Joey May

Celebrate the Fourth of July safely!

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Office of the State Fire Marshal and Safe Kids Kansas would, again, like to remind Kansans of the importance of safety this Independence Day.

“While our Fourth of July celebrations will undoubtedly be a little bit different this year, we want to remind everyone the importance of safety this season — safety for COVID-19 and safety for fireworks,” Secretary Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary said.

First, check with your community concerning mass gatherings/public events and what is permitted.

“This has been a unique year due to the COVID-19 restrictions across the state. As those restrictions are being lifted, we understand many will especially be looking forward to celebrating this year’s Fourth of July,” Doug Jorgensen, Fire Marshal for the State of Kansas, said. “We know the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to visit view public fireworks displays conducted by trained professionals who know how to properly handle fireworks. For some counties, those displays have been cancelled or postponed out of an abundance of caution for COVID-19.”

For those planning to attend gatherings or public events, it’s important to practice social distancing (6 feet or more) from people who are outside of your household as well as to wear face masks during this time.

“If choosing to go to any events or gatherings, please be vigilant with the safety of yourself and your family,” Norman said. “Now is not the time to relax our guard – wear the facemask, practice social distancing – you own your own preparedness.”

For those choosing to celebrate at home, it’s important to remember that fireworks are dangerous to both adults and children if not handled properly.

Out of 135 reported fireworks-related injuries in Kansas in 2019, males between the ages of 9 and 34 were the most commonly injured demographic, according to the 2019 Kansas Fireworks Injury Survey. Males represented 65 percent of the total number of injuries. Nearly half of the injuries involved children under the age of 18 and occurred on July 4. Hands, eyes, face and head injuries were among those reported.

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