Homemade fireworks blew up causing serious injury to an Indianapolis man Sunday evening and injuring another person in Wildwood Lakes Subdivision off U.S. 40.
Troy Roberts, 41, was airlifted to Wishard Memorial Hospital with serious foot, leg and hand injuries following the incident at a family get-together.
Cloverdale Township Fire Chief Kerry Shepherd said his department responded to a 7 p.m. dispatch for an explosion at 34 Skyline Drive. A landing zone was set up at South Putnam High School and Roberts was airlifted via Air Evac helicopter from the school.
Also injured was Cathy Whobrey, who was hit by shrapnel from the explosion. She was transported to Putnam County Hospital via Operation Life ambulance.
The incident comes just days prior to a national holiday when fireworks-related injuries are most likely to happen.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, 52 percent of all fireworks-related injuries in 2004 were to children and adolescents.
In the City of Greenastle, Mayor Nancy Michael says safety is one the city's utmost concerns during the Independence Day celebrations.
Michael told the BannerGraphic that the city has not passed any legislation that restricts or regulates the use of fireworks. But they do follow the state law that says property owners may shoot fireworks on their land and make sure it lands there or they may give permission to someone to shoot off fireworks on their land.
Even though emergency crews are ready to handle firework-related injuries, Michael said she hopes Greencastle residents will be smart with their fireworks. "We will only take the fireworks away if they are being misused," she said.
Although residents have not given the city council any reason to create local legislation about fireworks, they could easily fall under the noise ordinance and nuisance abatement ordinance in the Public Health and Safety Code.
The noise ordinance says, "No person shall operate any sound amplification system or any other machine, device, or equipment which produces sound outside of buildings or other enclosed structures which would disturb the peace or welfare of the neighborhood between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m."
The nuisance abatement ordinance says, "If a public nuisance is of such nature as to be constituted a grave and immediate danger to the public peace, health, safety, morals or welfare, the police department or other appropriate officer or agency of the City government is authorized to take immediate and proper action to abate such nuisance, or to reduce or suspend such danger until more deliberate action can be taken toward the abatement."
Even with the change to the law about out-of-state fireworks, which now can both be sold and shot off in Indiana, people wishing to purchase fireworks must 18 years or older. Aaron Ehrie, manager of USA Fireworks in the old CVS building on Indianapolis Road, told the BannerGraphic that he always checks driver's licenses if the person does not look 26 years old. He has also posted signs around the building letting customers know the age requirement.
Kraig Kinney, Executive Director of Putnam County Operation Life, said while the most serious injuries could be to the face, airway and eye, "most of the fireworks injuries that Operation Life has transported are hand and arm injuries from fireworks going off earlier than anticipated."
If homeowners want to set off fireworks for their own personal use, the State Department of Health has provided the following safety tips.
--Do not allow young children to play with fireworks, including sparklers.
--Closely supervise older children who are permitted to use fireworks.
--Do not allow any rambunctious play while fireworks are being used.
--Always wear eye protection when lighting or using any fireworks.
--Before using any fireworks, read and follow all warning instructions.
--Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses and flammable materials.
--Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and dousing fireworks that do not go off.
--Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Instead, soak them with water and throw them away.
--Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
--Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially one made of glass or metal.
--Store fireworks in a dry, cool place, according to the instructions.
Michael reminds residents coming to the Fourth of July celebration in Robe-Ann Park to leave all fireworks, including sparklers, at home this year. Officials will not allow personally bought fireworks to be set off in the park due to safety concerns.