Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and other city officials are urging residents to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent fireworks injuries during Independence Day celebrations.
"We are called upon this year to consider the ways we can safely celebrate the Fourth of July beyond the usual precautions of keeping a safe distance from fireworks," Gaylor Baird said. "One of the best ways we can enjoy our freedom and independence this weekend and beyond is to protect our friends, family, and neighbors from the spread of COVID-19."
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) recommendations discourage large gatherings with people outside of the immediate household. Other precautions for gatherings include the following:
City ordinance allows the sale and use of permissible fireworks only from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 3 and from 8 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. July 4 of each year.
All consumer-grade fireworks labeled 1.4G by the Department of Transportation are permissible. Exceptions are wire sparklers and fireworks with a stick that leave the ground. The Lincoln Bureau of Fire Prevention inspects all fireworks stands in the City for compliance.
To report fireworks violations, you must have an address or description of the property before calling the Lincoln Police Department's (LPD) non-emergency number, 402-441-6000. Call 911 only for emergencies.
The best way to protect your family is to leave the fireworks to experienced, responsible adults. Don't let children light fireworks. Other safety recommendations include the following:
More information on fireworks safety is available from these agencies:
Keep Lincoln and Lancaster County Beautiful (KLLCB) and Lincoln Transportation and Utilities (LTU) encourage residents to properly dispose of unused fireworks and fireworks debris following Independence Day celebrations. The public's efforts will help prevent injury to waste collectors and city landfill workers and protect local waterways. Litter that is washed down storm drains eventually flows into streams, rivers, and lakes, and the potentially harmful substances in fireworks can pollute the environment and harm aquatic life. Signs reminding residents to protect local water environments will be posted at Lincoln firework stands.
Officials urge the public to follow these recommendations for disposing of fireworks:
Residents who are picking up debris in their neighborhoods are encouraged to take selfies to participate in the city's "If It's In Our Streets, It's In Our Streams" fireworks awareness campaign. The photos can be tagged to the KLLCB Facebook page and the LTU Facebook and Instagram pages. For more information, visit lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: clean streets).
KLLCB is a program of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. More information is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: kllcb).
LTU Watershed Management assists in protecting Lincoln's lakes and streams. More information is available at watershed.lincoln.ne.gov.
The fireworks debris prevention effort is funded in part by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy.
The LLCHD has issued a health advisory for today through the morning of Sunday, July 5 for sensitive populations due to anticipated high levels of smoke from fireworks.
The LLCHD Air Quality Program typically observes periodic high levels of particulate air pollution from the evening of July 3 through the morning of July 5. During those times, Lincoln's Air Quality Index (AQI) often reaches peak levels that are unhealthy for everyone, but are especially unhealthy for people with heart disease, asthma, or other respiratory conditions like COPD.
Gary Bergstrom, Air Quality Program Supervisor with the LLCHD, said that most people are unlikely to be affected, but those most at risk are youth, the elderly and those sensitive individuals with respiratory or heart conditions. He said when the tiny particles and gases in smoke from fireworks are breathed into the lungs, it can cause asthma attacks, worsen chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and cause angina (chest pain) in some people with heart disease.
Bergstrom said people at risk should avoid extensive physical activity outdoors or remain indoors with windows and doors closed, and those who experience health effects should contact a medical care provider. He added that even a few hours of exposure to high levels of particle pollution may affect those with underlying health conditions.
The current weather forecast calls for relatively low wind speeds on July 3 and 4, which means elevated smoke levels may linger for several hours. LLCHD recommends that at-risk individuals take extra precautions during the peak hours of air pollution, which will likely be near dusk on July 4 through the morning of July 5.
The LLCHD monitors air quality 24 hours a day. The AQI for Lincoln is updated hourly and is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: air). Residents are encouraged to check the AQI the next few days before doing any strenuous activities outside.
More information is available at health.lincoln.ne.gov.