Lexington — With Independence Day approaching, the time when the public can legally discharge fireworks is here. The times open for the public to do so vary by city and location. People are strongly advised to be safe while doing so by their local fire departments.
Fireworks went on sale around the area on Tuesday, June 25, giving people 10 days to discharge their fireworks.
In Lexington fireworks went on sale Tuesday. City Clerk Pam Baruth said the city of Lexington does not have specific times regulating people when discharging their fireworks, but people are asked to be considerate of their neighbors.
If noise becomes a problem, it falls under noise nuisance code and offenders can be charged with disturbing the peace. Firework discharges in Lexington are to cease at midnight on July 4.
The Lexington Police Department asks people to be respectful of their neighbor’s peace and quiet during the ten day period and ask people to clean up used fireworks from the streets and sidewalks after they are finished.
Cozad allows residents to use their fireworks from June 25 to July 4. From June 25 to July 3, discharges are allowed between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. On July 4 this is extended to 10 a.m. to midnight.
Gothenburg maintains a 10 day period as well, from June 25 to July 3, legal times are 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. On the fourth of July, it is extended from 8 a.m. to midnight. Areas prohibited for firework use include in or on Lake Helen, or north of the Lake Helen dam.
Those living outside of municipalities are subject to Nebraska firework laws and can discharged the 10 days before July 4, as well as the fourth itself.
The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office offers general firework times of being from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on June 25 to July 3, and ending midnight on July 4.
Professional firework displays will be held at Lexington, Overton, Gothenburg, Sumner, Farnam and Johnson Lake. All these shows will begin around dusk.
The show on Johnson Lake starts at 10 p.m. on July 3, the alternate date in case of rain is July 6.
The show in Lexington will start at 10 p.m. Lexington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sarah Neben said the fireworks will be best seen from Kirkpatrick Memorial Park. The public is welcome to come attend, those who do are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.
Lexington Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Dalhas Holbein said, “We recommend people to always have a water source available while lighting fireworks such as a hose or bucket of water. Please be sure to never look directly over fireworks when lighting and give time for displays to fully complete before going near.”
“Always soak the fireworks to be sure they are well extinguished before throwing them in a trash dumpster,” Holbein continued, “Children should always be supervised by adults when handling any type of firework. Be respectful of pets, other people and our veterans. Not everyone loves the noise. Most of all we encourage everyone to have fun and be safe.”
According to the National Safety Council Nebraska, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires a year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 16,900 outside fires. On average these fires cause three deaths, 40 civilian injuries and roughly $43 million in property damage.
In 2017 there was an estimated 12,900 people who were admitted to an emergency room for firework related injuries, 54 percent of injuries were to extremities, 36 percent were to the head. Males account for 70 percent of all firework related injuries.
Children younger than 15 accounted for more than one third or 36 percent of the 2017 injuries, according to the data from the National Fire Protection Association. Children ages five to nine are more than twice as likely as any other age group to be injured by fireworks.
Common injuries to children come from sparklers, they burn hot enough to cause third degree burns if not handled properly. For context, wood burns at 575 degrees, sparklers burn at 1,200 degrees.
“Consumer fireworks may only be possessed, used or discharged by a person 16 years of age or older; provided, that a person 12 years of age or older and less than 16 years of age may possess, use or discharge consumer fireworks, but only when in the immediate presence of and under the direct supervision of an adult 19 years of age or older,” according to NSCN information.
The National Safety Council Nebraska offers several tips on being safe during the holiday.
Only use fireworks where they are legal. Only use fireworks that are legal where you are shooting them, and be sure you are shooting on dates that are legal in your city. Don’t import fireworks from another state or city to use locally – they may not be legal where you are. Buy locally to be sure fireworks are both legal and safe.
Use fireworks outdoors only. This includes sparklers and snakes. All fireworks burn, and can quickly start a house fire. When outdoors, be sure there is enough room to point fireworks away from spectators, houses, buildings and flammable materials.
Use launching fireworks in open areas only to ensure they don’t land on top of buildings and houses. Especially those with natural (cedar) type shingles.
Always pre-plan to have water handy, whether that is a bucket or a hose.
Have a first aid kit ready and waiting.
Keep young children away from fireworks – even sparklers! Children using fireworks should be at least 12 years old, and always closely supervised. 20% of fireworks injuries to children are caused by sparklers!
Use fireworks the way they were intended. Follow the lighting instructions on the package. Don’t combine them.
Don’t try to relight duds. Wait at least 20 minutes before handling a dud, then soak it in water before disposing of the dud.
Use a “designated shooter” who is alcohol free and wearing safety glasses! Light one device at a time, and keep a safe distance once a firework is lit. Don’t light fireworks in containers.
Don’t allow running or horseplay by anyone near fireworks.
Don’t use fireworks while consuming alcoholic beverages.
Always clean up after you are done celebrating.