For most Americans, Independence Day isn’t complete without a rousing array of fireworks, and for good reason. Fireworks have been a part of 4th of July festivities since the very first celebration of Independence Day in 1777. Each year the tradition continues with a fantastic show of patriotism across the United States.
While fireworks are fun and entertaining, it’s important to remember that they also present legal and safety issues. According to the National Council on Fireworks Safety, more than 10,000 people each year are severely injured by fireworks, and 40% of those injuries come from illegal fireworks. In addition, 45% of those injuries involved children 14 or younger. Fireworks are responsible for about 20,000 fires each year.
It’s no wonder that each state has passed its own laws concerning fireworks. Some states are very strict; New York and Massachusetts don’t allow consumer fireworks, period. Other states, such as Arizona and Ohio, allow only the use of “novelty fireworks,” while others, like California and Florida, allow “safe and sane fireworks.” On the other end of the spectrum, some states, like Texas, allow virtually all consumer fireworks. Before planning your stunning show of fireworks, check what kind of fireworks your state allows and if you need a permit(s) at the National Council on Fireworks Safety Website.
Be aware that those who don’t abide by their state’s fireworks laws could face hefty fines or even jail time. Or, worse, if your fireworks hurt people or cause damage to property, not only will you cause unintentional pain and suffering, you could end up having to pay medical bills or for property damage bills. With that in mind, knowing the legal guidelines for firework displays isn’t enough. It’s important to take appropriate precautions and launch fireworks with safety in mind.
With these fireworks tips, you can party like it’s 1777 again (without hurting yourself or others):
- Once you confirm that your state allows the use of fireworks, read and follow the directions on your fireworks before using them.
- Beware of suspicious sellers that may sell you dangerous or malfunctioning fireworks, and never make your own fireworks.
- When using fireworks, always make sure there is adult supervision and don’t let small children near fireworks.
- Always light fireworks one at a time and outdoors. Make sure you have water nearby, and avoid arid, hot areas.
- Never point fireworks at another person or animal.
- Carry fireworks in metal or glass containers, not in your pocket or in a flammable container.
- Whoever is shooting the fireworks must wear proper eye protection and make sure their body is not in the way of the firework.
- Before using, store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
- After use, dispose of fireworks safely by placing them in water and putting them in the trash can.
Have an exciting, law-abiding, and safe Fourth of July celebration!