Know laws, be safe with fireworks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

Watching a fireworks display at a public place with family and friends each Fourth of July is as American as apple pie.

As July 4, approaches, though, many will choose to buy and set off their own fireworks. Most of these people know that most fireworks are illegal in the state of Ohio,

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but few seem to care.

The only kind of fireworks you can both legally purchase and set off in Ohio are trick and novelty fireworks, such as sparklers, snakes and smoke bombs. Other fireworks, such as bottle rockets and firecrackers, can be legally purchased in Ohio, but must be set off across state borders.

Because of this law, consumers must sign a form stating they will take the fireworks out the state within 48 hours of purchase. On the form, the buyer has to state where outside the state the fireworks will be taken.

Under Ohio law, those illegally setting off fireworks are subject to stiff penalties. It is a first-degree misdemeanor for non-licensed individuals to discharge fireworks in Ohio. First-time offenders are subject to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail and repeat offenders could face felony charges.

If the potential penalties do not deter you from discharging fireworks, perhaps your own safety will. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission


approximately 9,700 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks last year. Approximately half of these injuries were burns. That same year, four people died as the result of fireworks accidents.

Even novelty fireworks can be dangerous. Sparklers, for example, burn at 1,800 degrees - hot enough to melt gold.

Because of this, you should always read and follow the directions on the label. Using the firework properly greatly reduces your risk of being injured.

Young children should not be allowed to play with fireworks - sparklers included - under any circumstances.

Your best option is to avoid backyard fireworks and leave the displays to the experts.

However, if you feel you must discharge your own fireworks, safety and state law must your top priority.