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Examiner
  • Fourth of July - Be safe, have fun

  • The Fourth of July is within days, so fireworks are for sale and can be heard – illegally – already.



    Local officials have some suggestions: Be safe, follow the rules, and please skip the sky lanterns.

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  • The Fourth of July is within days, so fireworks are for sale and can be heard – illegally – already.
    Local officials have some suggestions: Be safe, follow the rules, and please skip the sky lanterns.
    Better yet, says Eddie Saffel, assistant chief of the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District, “Just don’t buy any. Go watch the commercial displays.”
    There are commercial displays, starting today and running through the Fourth, in Independence, Blue Springs, Buckner, Sugar Creek and elsewhere.
    The sky lanterns, or Chinese sky lanterns, are a particular concern. They are small hot-air balloons, made of paper and powered by a candle.
    “They’re really popular in weddings and special events,” Saffel said.
    They’re not even legally considered fireworks, and they are bought online, at retailers and, now, at some fireworks stands.
    Blue Springs banned them this spring, and Saffel said CJC officials have been asking fireworks sellers to set them aside, even if they come as part of the package of products that wholesalers send. Sellers have been agreeing to that request, he said.
    The danger is that sky lanterns can rise up to 1,500 feet off the ground and can sail up to 20 miles, said Doug Short, chief fire inspector of the Independence Fire Department. That open flame creates a risk of setting a home, or a field, or the woods on fire.
    Like most cities, Independence has not banned them, though metro area fire chiefs are hoping for state legislation to do that.
    Although they are legal, “we would ask that those not be used just because they’re so uncontrollable,” Short said.
    Generally, officials ask that people keep safety in mind. There’s always the risk of injury or damage, such as from a fire.
    Although 2013 has been wetter and greener that the extremely dry 2012, “the weather folks are telling us we’re really still in a drought,” Saffel said.
    So be cautious.
    “Keep a bucket of water or a hose around you in case you get a little grass fire,” Saffel said.
    And if a firework is a dud, just discard it. Don’t try to relight it.
    “Every fireworks injury is an accident, and all accidents are preventable,” said Short.
    The rules
    Besides sky lanterns, other things that are launched cause worries. Bottle rockets, though easily obtainable at dealers just outside Jackson County, are illegal in Blue Springs, Independence, Grain Valley and elsewhere.
    CJC has fire protection for Blue Springs and Grain Valley, and Saffel says the rules are essentially that “anything that goes up and doesn’t completely disintegrate” is illegal. So Roman candles are OK, but bottle rockets, night parachutes and similar fireworks are illegal.
    Page 2 of 3 - Grain Valley and Blue Springs use the same language in their fireworks ordinances, stating that it’s illegal to use fireworks “in such a manner that the explosion ... will be likely to endanger or cause injury or damage to any person or property.”
    Independence, which began allowing fireworks a few years ago, is more specific. It’s illegal to have or use “bottle rockets, aerial missiles or similar device” as well as sparkler bombs or any fireworks that have been altered or combined with other fireworks.
    Independence also has these rules: You have to be 16 or older to legal set off fireworks, and it has to be outdoors, they can’t be shot from a vehicle, and they can’t be fired at a person or animal. Fireworks cannot be set off within 600 feet of a church, school, hospital or mental-health facilty; within 300 feet of anywhere, such as a gas station, where “ignitable liquid gases” are stored; or within 100 feet of a “designated historical structure” or a place where fireworks are stored. And fireworks have to be set off in such a way that they land on the property of the user, not a neighbor.
    Each city has set aside days and times when fireworks can be set off:
    • Independence: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 3, 10 a.m. to midnight July 4, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 5.
    • Blue Springs: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 1 through July 3 and 10 a.m. to midnight on July 4. The city says police will make extra patrols during those times. To report violatioins, call 816-228-0151 or text a tip – make it BSPD plus your message – to 274637 (crimes).
    • Grain Valley: 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. July 3 and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 4-7.
    See the show
    There are several community fireworks displays, all free (except for game admission for the Royals):
    • Buckner kicks things off today with a car show and fireworks at Heisler Park. It starts at 4 p.m., there’s a band, and there are concessions. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets. Fireworks are around 9.
    • At Kauffman Stadium, the Royals are having fireworks after Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians. The game is at 7:10 p.m.
    • Jackson County’s Fourth of July celebration is at Longview Lake in Lee’s Summit. Gates open at 6 p.m. There will be tribute to veterans and active-duty military. Nashville recording artists Blackjack Billy will perform, and there will be skydiving, carnival games and a water balloon contest. County officials say the fireworks show will be largest in the county. Bring blankets or lawn chairs. There are concessions, but no grills, pets or coolers allowed.
    • The Blue Springs display is at Peve Stadium at Blue Springs High School, 2000 N.W. Ashton Drive. Concessions available. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Live entertainment by Tyler Farr and 6 Degrees West. Fireworks begin about 9:30. (Rain date is July 5.)
    Page 3 of 3 - • Sugar Creek’s Fourth of July parade is at 11 a.m., and the evening festivities begin with music at 8 p.m. It’s at the Mike Onka Center.
    Park on Sterling Avenue, and take the shuttle, and bring your bring blankets and lawn chairs. The Heritage Philharmonic will play. The national anthem is at 9:15, and fireworks are at 9:30.
    • In Independence, there’s a concert by American Rhythm at the Community of Christ Auditorium at Walnut Avenue and River Boulevard at 7 p.m., followed by patriotic music by the Spirit of Independence Band before and during the fireworks display next door at the Mormon Visitors Center. Fireworks begin at 9:30. Bring your blankets or lawn chairs for the lawn viewing area. No personal fireworks, pets or alcohol allowed, but food and beverages are allowed. There will be portable toilets and trash bins.
     
     
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