As fireworks sales boom, local first responders prepare for a surge of injuries

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OLATHE, Kan. — Fireworks injuries are always a problem around Independence Day, but this year, emergency responders are bracing themselves for a surge. 

Fireworks retailers already are reporting strong sales for the Fourth of July holiday as many people cooped up by the pandemic want to get out and celebrate.

Many community fireworks displays have been canceled to prevent large gatherings. First responders and hospitals expect there may be a lot more backyard fireworks shows, as families try to celebrate and keep distance from their neighbors.

But putting even simple sparklers in the hands of children for Independence Day can cause serious burns in less than a second.

Last year, 35 people were admitted to the University of Kansas Hospital with fireworks related injuries. This year, nurses expect even more.

“It’s definitely a double-edged sword,” said Jennifer Parks, nurse manager at the burn center of the University of Kansas Health System. “We want people to social distance as best as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but that brings another predicament into the mix. People may be doing more of their own fireworks because of that.”

There will be a community fireworks display in Olathe where people are asked to watch from their cars. All other fireworks are prohibited in the city.

Still, police expect to get bogged down with a lot of calls. They’re urging people not to celebrate with gunfire, as that can cause property damage, injuries and even death.

The University of Kansas Hospital said it will have additional staff on hand for both for an increase in fireworks burns, and the surge we’re experiencing in coronavirus cases.

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