Residents Urged to be Safe When Using Fireworks

(GantDaily Graphic)

HARRISBURG – Because fireworks are a fun, but potentially dangerous, part of Fourth of July celebrations, state safety and law enforcement officials reminded residents about laws governing their use and offered tips on how to stay safe.

“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.”

“Fireworks are a highlight of any Independence Day celebration and, when purchased and used legally, can provide great entertainment,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding. “Keep yourself and your family safe by buying fireworks only from reputable in-state dealers.”

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.

Consumer fireworks, including firecrackers, roman candles and mortars, are prohibited by state law. 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.

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.

“Being smart, aware and safe this July Fourth holiday weekend includes paying particular attention to how you celebrate,” said Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski. “Not only is the use of many types of fireworks illegal, doing so by anyone other than professionals can be extremely dangerous.  Enjoy the fireworks displays sponsored by your local communities.”

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. Spectators should stay a safe distance from the igniter and 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 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 and click on “FAQs about Fireworks.”

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