Kaboom! Fireworks facts, laws and safety tips

Kaboom! Fireworks facts, laws and safety tips

With the 4th of July just around the corner, we thought a post on Ohio’s fireworks law along with facts and helpful safety tips might come in handy.

Ohio and other state fireworks laws

A good starting point is to understand what fireworks products are legal for you to purchase and use. These vary by state.

For instance, did you know that Ohio is one of four states that only allows wire or wood stick sparklers and similar novelty items? These can be sold and used anywhere in Ohio.

Here’s where Ohio law gets stickier. Ohio also allows for the purchase of ”consumer fireworks” if sold by a licensed fireworks manufacturer or wholesaler. Even though these items can be purchased by anyone over age 18, they can’t be set-off inside the state. A buyer actually signs a form agreeing to take the items out of the state within 48 hours if an Ohio resident or 72 hours if they reside outside the state.

Popular consumer fireworks include cone fountains, cylindrical fountains, roman candles, sky rockets, firecrackers, mines and shells, helicopter-type rockets and certain types of sparklers.

Penalties for discharging consumer fireworks in Ohio include fines up to $1,000 and a maximum of six months in jail.

Some states have limit the times of year when fireworks can be sold.

See state-specific fireworks laws from the American Pyrotechnics Association for more.

15 fireworks facts

  • The earliest documentation of fireworks dates back to 7th century China, where they were invented more than 2,000 years ago.
  • The first fireworks recorded to have been set off in the US were by Englishman Captain John Smith, famous in the story of Pocahontas.
  • 65% of all fireworks injuries in 2011 were sustained during the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday. 73% of fireworks-related injuries during 2010 occurred between June 18-July 18. (US Consumer Product Safety Commission-CPSC: Injury Statistics)
  • The US imports some $190 million worth of fireworks and makes $231.8 million more each year. (US Census Bureau; Facts for Features)
  • Three sparklers burning together generate the same heat as a blowtorch (about 2,000°F).
  • Disney World has more than 1,000 fireworks shows every year.
  • The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) estimates that more than 14,000 fireworks displays light up the skies each 4th of July.
  • In 2010, $316 million in fireworks were used in US public displays. Americans purchased another $636 million for personal use.
  • 30 years ago, a typical firework display lasted an hour. Today’s shows rarely last more than 20 minutes.
  • In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires and 16,300 outside and other fires. (National Fire Protection Association-NFPA: Fireworks Facts and Figures)
  • Cherry bombs, M-80s and other heavily charged explosive devices were deemed illegal by federal law in 1966.
  • Static electricity in synthetic clothing can ignite fireworks. Those who make fireworks wear cotton all the way down to their underwear.
  • The most dangerous fireworks-related tragedy in the world occurred on May 16, 1770, during the marriage of King Louis XVI to Marie Antoinette. After the celebratory fireworks show, there was a stampede where approximately 800 people where killed.
  • The current record for a fireworks display is held by Kuwait City, Kuwait for its November 19, 2012 celebration of the 50th anniversary of its constitution. It consisted of 77,282 fireworks stretching over 3.11 miles of seafront and lasted 64 minutes. (Guinness Book of World Records; Largest Fireworks Display)
  • The word for firework in Japanese is ‘hanabi’ which means ‘fire-flower.’

Injury stats

2011: 9,600
2010: 8,600
2009: 8,800
2008: 7,000
2007: 9,800
2006: 9,200
2005: 10,800
2004: 9,600
2003: 9,300
2002: 8,800

  • According to the CPSC, there were four fireworks-related deaths in 2011, three in 2010 and two in 2009.
  • Between June 17-July 17, 2011 CPSC reported at least 6,200 fireworks-related injuries were treated in US hospital emergency departments, accounting for 65% of the year’s injuries. Handheld sparklers caused about 1,100, while 300 were the fault of bottle rockets. Hands and fingers were most frequently injured. (CPSC: 2011 Fireworks Annual Report)
  • CPSC’s 2011 fireworks injuries infographic.

General fireworks safety tips

  • Always read and follow label directions. Even legal fireworks might not be safe.
  • Children should always be supervised by an adult when using any type of fireworks
  • Buy from reliable sellers
  • Use outdoors only
  • Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket)
  • Never experiment or make your own fireworks
  • Light only one firework at a time
  • Never re-light a “dud” firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water)
  • Never give fireworks to small children
  • If necessary, store fireworks in a cool, dry place
  • Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and before placing in a trash can
  • Never throw or point fireworks at others
  • Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers
  • The shooter should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework
  • Stay away from illegal explosives

At public fireworks displays

  • Spectators should obey all ushers or monitors, and respect the safety barriers set up to allow the trained operator room to safely do his job. Resist any temptation to get close to the actual firing site. In fact, the best view of the fireworks is from a quarter of a mile or more away.
  • Although it rarely happens, it is possible that a firework component might fall to the ground without exploding. Be cautioned not to touch these fireworks. If you happen to find any which have not exploded, contact the local fire or police department as soon as possible.
  • Leave pets at home if you are going to a fireworks show. Pets have very sensitive ears, and the booms and bangs associated with a fireworks display can be quite uncomfortable—particularly to dogs. In fact, the noises can actually hurt their ears.
  • Leave the lighting of all fireworks to the trained operator when you attend a public display. Sparklers, fountains and other items that many states allow for use by private individuals are not appropriate to use when a large crowd is present.

Resource links

CPSC 2011 fireworks report
CPSC 2010 fireworks report
CPSC 2009 fireworks report
CPSC 2011 fireworks injuries infographic
NFPA fireworks info
NFPA fireworks safety infographic

Photo credit: Smashing Magazine
Posted: June 25, 2013



Posted on: June 25th, 2013 at 7:23pm by bwittenbaum. Filed under: Ohio Insurance News

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