Sunday, July 3, 2016

Fireworks: Leave the crackle, bang, boom to professionals

By Mary Kuhlman
Ohio News Connection

COLUMBUS - It wouldn't be the Fourth of July without the crackle, bang and boom of fireworks, but state safety officials are encouraging Ohioans to be smart when celebrating.

Not only are bottle rockets, roman candles and most other fireworks not allowed to be discharged in Ohio without a license, they also are quite dangerous, says Chief Frank Conway, Ohio Division of State Fire Marshal's Fire Prevention Bureau.

Fireworks were the cause of more than 10,000 injuries treated in the nation's emergency rooms in 2014, which is why Conway recommends leaving fireworks to the professionals.

"It's the time of year we like to celebrate our independence and appreciate what has been done for us as Americans," he says. "And to do that, I think we just need to participate in the local events that are conducted in a safe manner by trained individuals."

Trick and novelty fireworks are permitted under Ohio state law without a permit. Those are the smokes, snaps, snakes and sparklers sold in local drug stores and supermarkets. An Ohio State Bar Association summary of Ohio's fireworks laws is here.

According to the organization Prevent Blindness, 40 percent of fireworks injuries in 2014 involved children younger than 15, and 1,400 injuries were caused by sparklers.

Conway notes that sparklers burn at more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Just be aware of the fact of how hot they are and the potential for burns," he says. "You know, you wouldn't allow your child to run through the yard with a cutting torch in their hand. So, safety needs to be on your mind with these devices."

If someone is caught violating fireworks laws, Conway says not only will the fireworks be taken away, but first-time offenders could face a $1,000 fine or six months in jail.

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