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Olathe firework hazard simulation shows realistic consequences of playing with fire

Exploding watermelon demonstrates the power of fireworks

The Olathe Fire Department used a watermelon to demonstrate how powerful fireworks can be as the Fourth of July holiday approaches.
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The Olathe Fire Department used a watermelon to demonstrate how powerful fireworks can be as the Fourth of July holiday approaches.

To illustrate the deadly consequences of misusing fireworks this holiday weekend, the Olathe Fire Department created a hazard demonstration by placing a watermelon over an M80 and a consumer artillery shell. The explosions shattered the melons, a realistic simulation of accidents that happen every Independence Day.

Olathe Fire Chief Jeff DeGraffenreid said keeping families and kids safe from deadly firework accidents is a priority.

“Let’s help ensure a safe and patriotic holiday by leaving fireworks to the professionals,” he said.

Fireworks are banned in most communities in the metro area, including Olathe, Kansas City and Overland Park.

Professionals gearing up for Olathe’s public firework display on Tuesday are taking extensive safety precautions and following many regulations that many families forget about in backyard displays.

Fireworks caused about 11,100 injuries nationwide in 2016, with children younger than 15 accounting for 31 percent of those injuries, according to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission. In 2015, the office of the Kansas State Fire Marshall counted 137 firework-related injuries. The year before, nearly 40 percent of firework injuries harmed children 12 or younger.

Municipality policies vary in Kansas and Missouri. Each year Missouri issues permits to more than 1,200 seasonal retailers to sell consumer fireworks to the public between June 20th to July 10th. Kansas residents can now pre-order fireworks before purchasing them from a licensed stand between June 25 and July 5.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to visit public displays. For a list of July 4th firework events in Kansas City, click here.

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