While our mission here isn’t to put a damper on anybody’s Fourth of July, we don’t relish having to report again this week that someone, particularly a child, lost fingers or an eye because of carelessness involving fireworks.
So we’re alerting readers: All display fireworks that are shot into the air and burst into a large, colorful display – such as those seen at organized celebrations and sporting events – are prohibited for use by most consumers.
That’s not our interpretation of the law. That’s what we’re advised by the state police, and the state Department of Agriculture, which licenses the sales of those beautiful aerial fireworks that go boom and pop in the night.
What prompted this reminder is more than the fact that Wednesday is July 4. It’s our observation that growingly over the past several years we are witnessing apparently illegal fireworks bursting in the skies over residential neighborhoods – set off by untrained and unlicensed homeowners and their friends.
Although we wouldn’t expect any police department to admit turning an eye while arsenals rapidly explode in the night air, we suspect there are cases where patrol responses happen only when neighbors complain loudly.
“Fireworks displays are best left to the professionals,” said State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann. “Anyone who wants to celebrate the holiday with small novelty fireworks should take some simple safety steps to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
State law, he said, allows consumers to use small “novelty” fireworks, which are ground-based and include sparklers and trick noise makers. These fireworks can be sold by retail establishments with valid permits.
Added Ag Secretary George Greig, “When purchased and used legally, fireworks can be a highlight of any Independence Day gathering. Stay safe by purchasing fireworks only from reputable in-state dealers.”
And a third voice came from State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan: “Enjoy your Fourth of July celebration, but be smart and remember fireworks are dangerous and their use is strictly limited by state law. Even smaller items such as sparklers can be potentially dangerous, particularly when used by children because they burn at a very high temperature.
“Play it safe this year and leave fireworks to the experts.”
Most of us are wide-eyed and in awe of professionally discharged fireworks at community events.
Let’s all decide to keep it that way. Let’s keep fireworks only in the hands of the trained professionals and only in prepared safety zones.
Play it safe
The following are safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks
* Fireworks should only be used outdoors.
* Always have water handy.
* Only use fireworks as intended. Do not try to alter or combine them.
* Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water prior to disposal.
* Spectators should stay a safe distance from the person igniting the fireworks. The igniter should wear safety glasses.
* Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
* Never use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives – illegal fireworks should be reported to local law enforcement.
* Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers. Sparklers should only be used under close adult supervision.
* Always remain standing and at least six feet from others while using sparklers.
* Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers.
* Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person.
* Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
* Sparkler wires and sticks remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Drop the spent sparkler into a bucket of water.