Fireworks are a traditional part of many Fourth of July celebrations, and state safety and law enforcement officials are reminding citizens to be safe as they celebrate the holiday.
“People who want to celebrate with family and friends using small novelty fireworks should do so with an over-emphasis on safety,” State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann said. “Make sure your holiday memories are safe and happy ones, and leave the big fireworks displays to the professionals.”
Pennsylvania law 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.
State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan also warned that although fireworks are a Fourth of July tradition, they are dangerous and their use is strictly limited by state law.
“The only fireworks permitted for the public’s use are sparklers and devices containing extremely small amounts of powder; no more than in a toy-pistol cap,” Noonan said. He stressed that items such as firecrackers, Roman candles, cherry bombs and M-80s are illegal.
“Fireworks are a highlight of Independence Day celebrations and can provide great entertainment when purchased and used legally,” Agriculture Secretary George Greig said. “Stay safe by buying fireworks only from reputable in-state dealers.”
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 consumers. These aerial-based fireworks are sold at facilities licensed by the state Department of Agriculture and may be purchased only by out-of-state residents with identification or in-state residents with a municipal permit.
Mann shared the following safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety:
- 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.
- Use common sense. Anyone igniting fireworks should wear safety glasses, and spectators should stay a safe distance away.
- 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 of any type. 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. Be sure to drop the spent sparkler directly into a bucket of water.
For more information on Pennsylvania laws regarding fireworks, please visit the Pennsylvania State Police web site at www.psp.state.pa.us, and click on “Frequently Asked Questions about Fireworks.”