HARRISBURG – As people across the country prepare to celebrate America’s independence this weekend, Pennsylvanians are being reminded to stay safe and follow state law when enjoying fireworks displays.
“It’s tempting to get caught up in the festivities and enjoy some consumer-grade fireworks at home with family and friends,” said State Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay. “But ignoring basic safety guidelines can turn a happy time into a potentially life-threatening situation.”
Pennsylvania law allows consumers to use only small “novelty” fireworks, such as sparklers and trick noise makers. These fireworks can be sold by retail establishments with valid permits.
State Police Acting Commissioner Marcus L. Brown advised that Pennsylvania law prohibits the use and sale of most fireworks, except to certain organizations for public displays, and then only after proper bonding, permits, registration and inspection requirements have been met in the municipality where a fireworks display is to be presented.
“The only fireworks permitted for the public’s use without a permit are sparklers and devices containing extremely small amounts of powder; no more than in a toy-pistol cap,” Brown said. He stressed that items such as firecrackers, Roman candles, cherry bombs and M-80s are illegal.
Brown noted that some municipalities in Pennsylvania even ban the use of sparklers, and he urged residents to check their local fireworks law before attempting to buy or use sparklers.
“This is the time of year where we think of celebrations with family and friends,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “A part of the July 4 holiday tradition includes fireworks being used to illuminate the sky as we take a moment to reflect on and celebrate our independence. Our department wants to remind everyone that while fireworks can be fun and add to your holiday event, it is important to use and purchase those fireworks from licensed in-state dealers.”
All display fireworks that are shot into the air and burst into a large, colorful display, like those seen at organized celebrations and sporting events, are prohibited for use by consumers.
Solobay shared the following safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety:
- Fireworks should only be used outdoors, away from structures, automobiles, etc.
- Always have water handy.
- Use fireworks only as intended. Read and follow all directions provided by the manufacturer.
- Never attempt to 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 thePennsylvania State Police web site at www.psp.pa.gov, and click on “Public Safety” at the top of the page.