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Fireworks in July are a 250 year tradition

July 4th is synonymous with fireworks. It is legal to shoot them in most of the nation in late June and early July– except where it isn’t. Although states follow federal regulations, individual municipalities set their own policies.

Fireworks are a central part of America’s celebration of its independence from Britain.

According to History.com, “Fireworks have a long and colorful history, but the story of how they became ubiquitous on July 4 dates to the summer of 1776, during the first months of the Revolutionary War. On July 1, delegates of the Continental Congress were in Philadelphia, debating over whether the 13 original colonies should declare their independence from Britain’s Parliament as well as King George III himself.”

John Adams actually said Americans should use fireworks to celebrate.

READ: American history you should know – John Adams

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” Adams wrote. “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival…It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

The tradition is only growing but today comes with cautions and advice.

Spirit of Kansas fireworks“Before you buy fireworks, check: ‘Are they legal to use where I live?’” Mike O’Connell, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety said. Some places may allow fireworks in unincorporated areas during specific times of the day and extend those hours for the holiday, while others ban individual use outright.

Federal regulations allow for consumer fireworks in compliance with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission but prohibit more dangerous ones, such as cherry bombs, reloadable mortar shells, aerial bombs and large firecrackers containing more than two grains of powder. The Division of Fire Safety issues more than 1,200 permits to seasonal fireworks retailers each year. These licensed retailers are able to sell fireworks from June 20 to July 10 and December 20 to January 2.

For those who choose to use fireworks in holiday celebrations, the Department of Public Safety recommends the following tips:

  • Confirm fireworks are legal where you live.
  • Purchase fireworks only from licensed retailers.
  • Use fireworks only in a large open space that has been cleared of flammable materials.
  • Always keep young children away from fireworks. If teens are permitted to handle fireworks, they should be closely supervised by an adult.
  • Always wear eye protection.
  • Have a garden hose or a bucket of water nearby in case of a fire.
  • Light fireworks only one at a time.
  • Never try to relight fireworks that have malfunctioned.
  • Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.
  • Never shoot off fireworks off from a glass jar or container.
  • Never use fireworks while consuming alcohol.
  • Never store fireworks from season to season.

In 2018, 400 Missourians visited the hospital for injuries related to fireworks. In Kansas over 175 were injured. Thirty-three of them were admitted to the hospital, and the others were treated and released. Professional shows that put on a public fireworks display are most likely the safest way to celebrate, O’Connell said.

National numbers show about seven out of 10 injuries happen to men with most being between 25 and 44 years old.

–Alan Goforth |  Metro Voice