Independence Day is celebrated on July 4 but the actual Continental Congress vote for independence took place on July 2.

Fireworks will light up the sky on July 4 to celebrate Independence Day. According to online records from the Massachusetts Historical Society, John Adams, who was a key player for independence and would become the new country's second president, wrote a letter to his wife Abigail in which he predicted the nation would celebrate the day with a variety of activities including “illuminations” from one end of the continent to the other. The letter was dated July 3, 1776 and Adams referred to July 2 as they day that would be celebrated.

Congress voted for independence on July 2, 1776 but the document they signed two days later was dated July 4, 1776 and that is day that is traditionally celebrated. It took some time for everyone to sign the declaration and the last signature went on the final draft on Aug. 2, 1776.

There were celebrations, including fireworks, in 1776 and those celebrations continue to this day. Everywhere across the country, including Pratt, people visit fireworks stands to get their favorite displays for their personal fireworks.

The stands that sell fireworks have to have a license to conduct business. According to a County Commission resolution, cost of license is $50 and it’s been that way since the Pratt County Commissioners established the fireworks resolution on March 26, 1979. Commissioners Kermit Brown, Ralph Bales and James Hearn, voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.

The resolution also prohibits anyone to sell or have in their possession for sale bottle rockets, night parachutes, sky rockets or any thing classified as pipe rocket. Violation of the ordinance has a maximum fine of $500.

While stands have to get the permit to sell locally, they also have to meet 11 State Fire Marshall safety features regarding permitted sale dates, illegal fireworks, records, fire extinguisher, attendant on duty, no smoking sign, storage/gasoline/liquids, egress travel distance, aisle width and housekeeping/damaged fireworks.

The sale of fireworks is allowed only from June 27 to July 5, there has to be two exits, aisles have to be at least 48 inches wide, two portable fire extinguishers are required unless the stand covers less than 200 square feet, no smoking signs are required and damaged fireworks have to be removed and not sold to the public.

While fireworks are visually a lot of fun, they are explosives and care must be taken to prevent injury. Many injuries happen every year across the country. The Office of the Kansas State Fire Marshall offers the following fireworks safety tips:

• Always read and follow label instructions.

• Always purchase high quality fireworks from a reliable, legitimate source.

• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”

• Never give fireworks to small children.

• Adults should always supervise use of fireworks by older children.

• Always wear eye protection when lighting fireworks.

• Never ignite fireworks indoors. Make sure your outdoor area is safe for firework use.

• Never point or throw fireworks at a person, building or animal.

• Have a source of water handy in case of fire.

• Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.

• Light only one firework at a time.

• Never attempt to relight malfunctioning fireworks.

• When lighting fireworks, never position any part of your body over them.

• Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.

• Never experiment with homemade fireworks. They are dangerous and illegal.

• Bottle rockets and other skyrockets that are mounted on a stick or wire are illegal.

• It is illegal to shoot fireworks on or under a vehicle, on any public roadway within 50 feet of a firework stand or where fireworks are stored and gas stations or any place liquid gas, including propane, is stored.

@GaleR_Tribune