One year ago 911 dispatch sent Newton Fire/EMS to a call where a man reported he had “destroyed his hand” while lighting fireworks. The victim was transported to Via Christi St. Francis of Wichita in critical condition.

It was a moment that serves as a reminder of the danger of lighting fireworks to celebrate Independence Day.

According the Kansas Syndromic Surveillance Program, there were 154 reported fireworks-related injuries during the Fourth of July holiday in 2017. Injuries to the hands were most common and hands or fingers were involved in 38 percent of identified emergency department visits. The eyes, face, or head were involved in over a quarter (28.5 percent) of all visits.

Aside from the injury, the five days designated for fireworks sale and discharge iin 2017 for Newton was a light year for Fire/EMS — with only three fireworks-related calls. There was one structure fire reported, a garage fire.

According to 911, there were about 40 calls of noise complaints to dispatch between June 30 and July 5 of 2017.

The most common victims of fireworks injuries are adult males and children. According to statistics from the Kansas Fireworks Injury Survey, a voluntary reporting system for Kansas hospitals, adult males represented 40 percent of all reported fireworks-related injuries, with another 40 percent of reported fireworks injuries affecting children under the age of 18.

“Serious injuries and fires are very likely to occur when fireworks are not handled properly,” said Doug Jorgensen, Fire Marshal for the State of Kansas. “While the safest approach to enjoying fireworks is to visit public fireworks displays conducted by trained professionals who know how to properly handle fireworks, we understand that individuals will be purchasing and participating in their own displays. We urge you to be vigilant and cautious to ensure a safe and fun Fourth of July.”

The Office of the State Fire Marshal and Safe Kids Kansas offers the following tips for the safe use of fireworks:

• Have an adult supervise all fireworks activities

• Use a long-handled lighter

• Always ignite fireworks outdoors

• Have water nearby

• Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks

• Light only one firework at a time

• Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks

• Never give fireworks to small children

• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place

• Dispose of fireworks properly

• Never throw fireworks at another person

• Never carry fireworks in your pocket

• Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers

• Always purchase high quality fireworks from reliable and legitimate sources

• Always read and follow label directions

In addition, bottle rockets and M80s are not only extremely dangerous, but they are illegal in the State of Kansas.