OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — With nearly 10,000 people suffering fireworks-related injuries every year around the July 4th holiday, Jason Rhodes with the Overland Park Fire Department has an annual refrain he finds himself repeating.
“We just tell people to leave the shows to the pros,” Rhodes said.
But in the year of the coronavirus pandemic, that advice could be a hard sell for many.
With many municipalities canceling their annual fireworks demonstrations for Independence Day (Overland Park being one exception), first responders fear emergency rooms will see more than the usual uptick in burns and injuries this year.
It can leave a sting on your criminal record as well.
“If you were written a ticket in Overland Park for illegal fireworks, that fine can range from $200 to $500, and there’s probably going to be a mandatory court appearance attached to it as well,” Rhodes said.
Laws covering amateur fireworks vary in towns and cities across the metro. But in larger cities like Kansas City and Overland Park, they remain illegal.
On top of a permanent injury, Rhodes reminds me people that a fireworks accident can also lead to financial ruin.
“One of the things we tell people: Don’t buy your neighbor’s house,” Rhodes said. “We’ve had cases in the past where folks were shooting off fireworks, and their fireworks caught the neighbor’s house on fire. Well, that homeowner’s insurance company came after whoever lit the fireworks, and they ended up being on the hook for that.”