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Fireworks season raises safety concerns for mid-Missourians amid drought conditions

Three fireworks explosions happening on a dark night sky.
The city of Columbia is hosting its own fireworks display on Tuesday.

The fourth of July is not an orthopedic hand surgeon’s favorite time of year.

Daniel London is an assistant professor at MU in the department of orthopedic surgery and specializes as a hand and microvascular surgeon. He said this time last year, he did back-to-back operations for nearly 24 hours.

London said there’s a misconception that fireworks can be used safely.

“In a lot of cases, they are a small little bomb that you’re trying to potentially use at home,” London said. “So again, that’s where my recommendation comes to leave it to the professionals because they can lead to some devastating complications and complexities of care that will have lifelong impacts on the patient.”

London said the most common injuries are burns, and those patients never see London. When a patient meets with London after using fireworks, their injuries are far more significant.

With this year’s drought, Boone County Fire Protection DistrictAssistant Chief Gale Blomenkamp said he also anticipates a larger increase in call volume than past years, even though he said the holiday weekend already brings in more callers.

“The drought here in Boone County is going to affect people in the sense that when a fire does start, or if a fire does start, it’s going to spread more rapidly, burn a little more intensely because of the dry grasses,” Blomenkamp said.

The drought is considered severe throughout most of Boone County and extreme in a smaller portion.

While Boone County hasn’t issued a burn ban yet, it might if conditions get worse, Blomenkamp said.

London and Blomenkamp both suggest attending public and commercial firework displays rather than setting off fireworks alone.

Columbia is hosting the 71st annual Fourth of July celebration Fire in the Sky on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The fireworks display will start at 9:15 p.m.

Abby Lee is a student at the University of Missouri studying journalism and women’s and gender studies. She has interned with mxdwn Music and The Missouri Review.
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