Think twice before lighting fireworks in town!

Lawton_Fireworks booths are now open outside the city limits of Lawton.  And we will undoubtedly be hearing those familiar screams and whistles well before the 4th.  If you choose to set off those fireworks early, you'll be in more trouble with the police than you will with your angry neighbors - setting off fireworks in the Lawton city limits is illegal, and the police and fire departments will be out in enforcing the rules.

Fireworks can be purchased at any fireworks stand, but you can only light them on Independence Day between noon-11 p.m. at designated areas at Lakes Lawtonka and Ellsworth.  However, it seems there will always be some holiday revelers who are dead-set on breaking the rules.  "Every year our number of responses on grass fires and unnecessary fires caused by fireworks dramatically, exponentially increase," says Lawton Fire Marshal Mark Mitchell.

If you are caught discharging fireworks in the city limits, you will be charged with violating the discharge ordinance, and can even be fined for littering - at a cost of $750.  If the county is under a burn ban at the time fireworks are set off in the city, it could also be a violation of state laws, and punishment could be even worse if there is property damage.  Even if damage caused by discharging fireworks is an accident, it could be considered arson - a crime punishable by prison time.  "There's any number of ramifications that go along with setting them off illegally in the City of Lawton," says Mitchell.

Personal safety is also a concern.  Unsafe use of fireworks can cause horrible injuries, and while most of the time it may be an accident, as with a firework that doesn't ignite immediately, it pays to proceed with caution at all times.  "Many times that's when the injuries occur," says Mitchell.  "Somebody thinks its a dud, goes to pick it up or relight it, and it discharges and goes off in their hand or in their face."

If you're setting off fireworks, be sure to have a water source nearby to extinguish any fires.  The Fire Marshal also advises anyone handling fireworks to wear eye protection and have a first-aid kit available - both could save your life in an emergency.

Lawton Police will be out in full force on July 4, looking out for your safety both with fireworks and holiday drinking.