The Lexington Police and Fire Departments are reminding people to stay safe and think of others during this year's Fourth of July celebrations.
Both police and fire department officials have stressed that only "safe and sane fireworks" are permitted for use within city limits.
“The general rule of thumb is if it goes up or blows up it’s more dangerous, and therefore illegal in Lexington,” Lexington Fire Lieutenant Jessica Bowman said in a press release. “Our recommendation is to leave the fireworks to the professionals. The City has worked hard to offer a variety of ways to celebrate the fourth of July, including a free fireworks show.”
Sparklers, fountains and wheels are permitted and can even be legally used at night since they do not violate the city's noise ordinance. Aerial and exploding fireworks are prohibited and those found using them inside the city may be fined by the police.
Typically the police are trying to protect against property damage and injuries, Lexington Police spokesman Jervis Middleton said.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's 2017 fireworks report, 12,900 people were treated in U.S. hospitals with firework-related injuries last year and there were eight reported deaths — five of which came from "reloadable aerial" fireworks. Middleton also cautioned to not drink and use fireworks and to not try to light fireworks with other fireworks as both are likely to lead to injury.
The loud booms and bright flashes of fireworks can also be a public safety concern, police and fire officials said.
According to Middleton, the police are usually inundated with noise complaints around the Fourth of July, as many loud fireworks are confused with gun shots, but police will still try to investigate every call.
"It gets taxing on the officers," Middleton said. "But with the Fourth of July they expect it."
If there is a worry that a loud sound on the Fourth is a gunshot, people are still encouraged to call, Middleton said, but with so many reports around the city, it's just a matter of when the police will be able to respond to the calls.
"Most people are already done shooting by the time we get there," Middleton said. "But we'll go investigate and cite them."
Bowman said that those using loud fireworks should consider others before use because "not everyone experiences the Fourth in the same way."
"For other segments of the population," Bowman added, "it can be a time of stress."
Bowman said that she'd recently spoken with a veteran who told her that those with severe Post Trautmatic Stress Disorder "don't respond well" to loud fireworks. Bowman added that mothers with infants can struggle to put their babies to sleep if neighbors are launching fireworks for multiple days in a row. Pet owners also often complain that animals can also be frightened by the loud booms and flashes of fireworks.
The police also get reports of people firing firearms into the air in celebration. Middleton warned that the practice is illegal and extremely dangerous.
"Those bullets come down with the same velocity that they go up," Middleton said. He added that no one in Lexington has been injured by stray bullets on the Fourth, but there has been vehicle damage in the past.
A woman was struck by a stray bullet last year on Kentucky Lake.
Both the police and fire departments encourage those around Lexington to watch the city's firework show that will be launched off the roof of the Lexington Financial Center (the Big Blue Building) at 10 p.m. Wednesday night.