In July 3-9 issue By Derek Aaron Times Journal Reporter
JAMESTOWN - Friday is Independence Day, which means the night sky across Russell County this weekend will most likely be filled with fireworks blasts and beautiful colors.
With all the fun to be had, it is sometimes easy to forget firework safety practices, according to H.M. Bottom, Russell Springs Fire Chief and the county's emergency management director.
Bottom said that last year alone, 10,000 people were injured nationwide because of fireworks injuries.
Ninety percent of the injuries were caused by legal fireworks, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
He said that, in his capacity as fire chief, he receives several calls around the Fourth of July holiday from parents concerned about safety tips and tips for their children.
Bottom suggested the following tips for at-home fireworks shows:
Always read and observe label directions, remember to keep water handy, always have an adult present, never re-light a "dud" firework, don't give fireworks, including sparklers, to small children, stay away from dry vegetation, buy from a reliable fireworks dealer, never experiment by making your own fireworks, always light one at a time, always store in a cool, dry place and make sure and dispose of all fireworks properly after use.
Bottom said he has seen several injuries and fires result from mishandling fireworks over the years.
"We've had to respond to some injuries before, mainly to the hands, from people that didn't have adult supervision and we've had a few fires started, usually around a dry time," he said. "We haven't had anything too serious and I hope it stays that way."
Independence Day sees more fires in the United States than any other day of the year, with most fires caused by fireworks, the NFPA reports.
Bottom, though, said most people observed and followed safety rules when dealing with fireworks.
"We want everybody to enjoy the Fourth of July and have a good time," he said. "There is nothing wrong with shooting fireworks as long as it is done in the manner that it was designed to do."
During a press conference last week, Kentucky State Fire Marshal William Swope Jr. did say it may be safer to attend a community fireworks show if at all possible.
"Professional fireworks shows are staged by experienced companies that take all the safety precautions," Swope said. "Plus, a pyrotechnics show is a much more exciting experience than setting off fireworks at home."
In Kentucky, only Class 1.4G, or consumer, fireworks are allowed by law. This excludes firecrackers, roman candles and any other device that explodes or shoots in the air. In other words, all exploding and flying fireworks are illegal.
Kentucky's fireworks laws are different than that of many neighboring states, so it is best that Russell Countians that plan to shoot off their own entertainment make their purchases in-county at one of the several reliable fireworks stands that have been set up rather than crossing the border, where fireworks that are illegal to use in Kentucky are sold.
Ronnie Moore, the owner of Moore's Cabinets in Russell Springs, has been selling fireworks in front of his business around the Fourth of July going on 12 years.
Moore said that due to the fact of rising gas prices and the current high cost of living, the fireworks business has been a "little slower than normal." But he expects sales to increase the next day or so.
"We're heading into the main time so we're expecting a jump," he said.
Moore said he receives many calls each summer from people asking if he is going to sell fireworks.
"They won't let us quit selling," he said. "We have very competitive prices here as well." Moore said he has been in the fireworks business for so long that he has developed a good relationship and business pipeline with a Chinese company from where he buys the fireworks.
"We try and take care of everybody because we have a big selection of them," he said. Moore's has more than 150 different types of fireworks, ranging from small to large in size, and has anything one would want to put on a show for the neighbors.
"The variety is very good here," he said. Moore said, once a year, fireworks dealers all have a meeting to learn about the newest ones available to them and buy their allotment from there.
"We started out (selling fireworks) for the kids and it ended up becoming a yearly thing for everybody," Moore said. "Fifteen to 20 years ago I would have always thought that the prettier the package, the better the firework , but that is not always true."
He said he would help anyone locate they type of fireworks they are looking for so everyone is pleased.
Moore's children and grandchildren help out at the fireworks stand, too, making it a family event.
"We enjoy it and we have a big time," he said. "We're usually so tired after the holiday that we close up shop and all take a vacation."
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
P.O. Box 190
120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
404 Monument Square
Jamestown KY 42629