Fireworks have long been a mainstay of Independence Day celebrations. Unfortunately, the excitement and splendor of fireworks can be extinguished all too suddenly if careless use or product malfunction causes someone to be injured.
There’s no question that fireworks—including consumer-grade devices—are inherently dangerous. In fact, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), on average, 180 people go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries each day in the month surrounding the Fourth of July holiday. What’s more, the National Safety Council reports that fireworks are responsible for an average of 18,500 structure fires each year.
Considering the intrinsic danger in using fireworks, the safest way to enjoy them is by viewing a public display put on by professionals. However, many municipalities are canceling their fireworks displays this year to help limit the spread of COVID-19, which may encourage more amateur use.
But before you start to plan that backyard fireworks display, it’s important to verify whether amateur use of fireworks is actually legal in your area. Despite what your eyes and ears may tell you around this time every year, it is not currently legal to discharge fireworks in the state of Ohio. This may soon be changing, however, as the Ohio House just passed a bill that will allow Ohioans to discharge consumer-grade fireworks on their own property, and (as of this writing) the legislation has advanced to the Ohio Senate for consideration.
In addition to verifying the legality of amateur use before buying or discharging fireworks, be sure to observe all the following fireworks safety recommendations from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (source: cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Fireworks):
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
- Don’t assume sparklers are harmless, devices. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. These devices burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals. According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries, and for children under five years of age, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total estimated injuries. For a fun, kid-friendly alternative to sparklers, consider glow sticks instead.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
Remember, while fireworks can deliver some explosive and visually dazzling Fourth-of-July fun, they’re also inherently dangerous. If you plan to use these devices on your property, try to do so as safely as possible. Don’t put yourself or any of your loved ones at risk of injury!