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SPOTLIGHT
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Fireworks, part II

Published on -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

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When this space on the editorial page is used to criticize local governing bodies for a particular action, and then those officials correct their course, we are obliged to praise the turnaround. Obligations aside, we actually are more than happy to do it.

One day after we criticized local governments in Ellis County for not overturning the standing ban on fireworks because of the ongoing drought, the city of Hays called a special meeting -- and voted to allow them. From 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. today through Friday, both the sale and discharge of fireworks will be legal within the city limits. While we believe Sunday's editorial was less of a factor than the multitude of phone calls and emails sent to commissioners, we must give credit where it's due. Hays commissioners heard from their constituents -- and paid attention.

We aren't even necessarily that keen on the idea of pyrotechnics being launched from backyards and alleys throughout town. We just didn't like hearing the drought being used as justification for the ban given the extremely wet month of June.

There are always a few that tend to ruin the fun to be had when safety-conscious and law-abiding citizens shoot off fireworks. Common infractions include using products purchased in other states that aren't legal in Kansas or setting them off after 11 p.m.

We would urge consumers to use common sense and be good neighbors while using fireworks. Too many legitimate complaints likely will lead the city commission to ban fireworks permanently.

Courtesy of Hays Fire Chief Gary Brown, the following tips are offered to help ensure a safe fireworks experience:

* Adults need to closely supervise teens using fireworks.

* Do not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.

* Fireworks should only be used outdoors.

* Always have a hose, fire extinguisher or water bucket ready when using fireworks.

* Know your fireworks; read the caution label before igniting.

* Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.

* Only light one firework at a time.

* Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

* Avoid using homemade fireworks or illegal explosives: They can kill you.

* Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor, fire-resistant garbage can away from buildings and flammable materials.

Brown also pointed out state law prohibits fireworks from being ignited or discharged:

* From a moving or stationary vehicle.

* On a public street or right-of-way.

* Within 100 feet of a hospital, nursing home or fireworks sales location.

* Within 50 feet of a fuel pump or gas station.

The commission's decision wasn't unanimous, as Vice Mayor Eber Phelps would have preferred consistency throughout the county.

So would we. The city of Hays listened to its residents; will other entities do the same? Time is not on your side.

For residents not wishing to shoot off their own fireworks, be sure to watch the night sky on the Fourth of July. The free fireworks presented by the Wild West Festival at 10 p.m. Friday are as spectacular as labeled.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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