Fireworks Sales Begin

By: Katie Stukey, The Associated Press Email
By: Katie Stukey, The Associated Press Email
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Fireworks Safety

Now that fireworks are here, emergency rooms are on standby for the inevitable injuries linked to careless use.

If you do plan to buy fireworks, make sure you take precautions. Set off fireworks in a safe manner and if someone is injured, get medical attention as soon as possible.

Dr. Nathaniel Brackett, Bergan Mercy’s Medical Director, said, "People oftentimes light fireworks off in their hands, try to aim fireworks, or throw fireworks and that's a recipe for disaster.  Never try to shoot fireworks at someone else.  People should wear eye protection, gloves, and always have supervision when lighting off fireworks."

You can avoid all firework injuries by leaving it up to the pros. There are a number of shows in the metro during the season.


Fireworks sales began Wednesday in Nebraska. The state, which licensed 703 fireworks stands this year, allows them to sell until midnight on July 4th.

It’s a booming business for many metro nonprofit organizations. At Wild Willy's tent on 84th Street and Park Drive in Ralston, a portion of the proceeds goes to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands. In the years it's been involved it's turned out to be about a $4,000 boost for their mission.

"It's a great help for us,” says Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands Director of Marketing and Recruitment Jim Frederick. “All the proceeds that come from the fireworks sales goes back and helps us recruit, screen and train new mentors for the kids in our program, so we're definitely excited about the funds that we receive from the fireworks sales."

The City of Omaha received 93 applications from non-profit organizations that want to set up fireworks tents in the city this year.

Four years ago there were 35 tents. Now there are 50, all operated by non-profit organizations that do everything from feeding children to helping sponsor athletic teams.

The Viking Ship is one of the organizations that sell fireworks. Money made goes to support a number of programs and youth athletic teams in North Omaha.

Viking Ship’s Mary Zadina said, “We're amazed at how many people come here just because it’s the Viking Ship. They really like to support it because they say, ‘when I was a little kid, I was here and you did all this for me and now I want to pay you back.’ So, it really means a lot to them.”

Gabe and Ben were on their way to buy fireworks. Both are familiar with the Viking Ship, especially their youth athletic programs. They like knowing the money they spend on fireworks won’t all go up in the air.

Gabe Mendick said, “I think it’s good to help out the community in a way we have fun and buy fireworks and at the same time it helps out little kids.”

Ben Murray said, “I think it’s good. I get to spend my money to help out the younger kids. It’s always nice to do that. And they get to have their fun and I get to have mine.”

The Viking Ship and other non-profits depend on the money made from fireworks sales. Last year each one of the city's 50 non-profits that had permits to sell fireworks averaged $12,900 for their organizations.

The State Fire Marshal's office reminds Nebraskans that some fireworks are still prohibited in the state, including wire sparklers and bottle rockets. Wire sparklers were outlawed a few years ago, but suppliers could sell what they had left up until this year. The current version is wood or bamboo.

Distributors are starting to put more focus on fireworks with big impact. They say that's what customers are after and the associated costs all the way back to China where these are made are much better for the big ones.

"Those are easier to make than the little stuff, ironically enough,” says Don Bellino with Bellino Fireworks. “Like firecrackers are almost a dying breed because a lot of that is handiwork so they can make one of those really nice aerial cakes easier than they can do firecrackers."

About 150 people are hospitalized in Nebraska every year as a direct result of fireworks. “Fireworks themselves are somewhat inherently dangerous,” says Papillion-La Vista Fire Chief Bill Bowes. “They explode. Things that explode are dangerous, so if they're used in a proper manner, in a safe manner with a bit of wisdom, they're great, they're fun to shoot off, fun to watch.”

Officials say it's important to take precautions when using fireworks. Make sure to have a bucket of water nearby and never light fireworks near dry grass. Also, stand several feet away from lit fireworks and supervise children closely around fireworks.

All retailers have to go through an inspection with the local fire department. This year’s merger between the Papillion and La Vista fire departments has made that task a bit more complicated because each city has its own rules for fireworks.

Some things they're looking for are uniform. Tents have to be set away from buildings and the tables inside can’t be set up in a way that creates dead ends. One difference is La Vista requires port-a-potties at each tent while Papillion does not. That means the fire marshal has to adjust his checklist for nearly every other tent.

“So we're trying to balance those differences now and I think long term we'll be both on the same page, everything will be identical, but for right now each city is a separate entity served by one fire department so we're trying to find that delicate balance between the two," says Chief Bowes.

The rules vary from city to city, but here's how things stand for Omaha. Sales run Wednesday through July 4th from 8 a.m. - 11 p.m. for age 16 and up, 12-15 with adult supervision. The rules are similar for municipalities across the metro.

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