Texas Living

Are your fireworks legal?

By Heather C. Levy 7.2.13

Fireworks on July 4th is an American tradition. However, just because you can purchase fireworks online or nearby, it doesn’t mean you can legally ignite them.

Nor do you want to become a safety statistic. The American Pyrotechnics Association and the National Council on Fireworks Safety (NCFS) conducted an intensive study of fireworks. Every year, the average is 9,300 serious injuries, and 40 percent of these result in blindness in one or both eyes.

And the statistics are not pretty. Children younger than 14 account for more than 45 percent of serious injuries. And did you know 20,000 fires are caused each year due to fireworks? The highest offenders for serious injuries or death are firecrackers, sky rockets, and yes, sparklers (sparklers actually cause the most injuries on July 4th)!

Changing fireworks regulations

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), has worked with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding making firecracker-type explosives, such as M-80s, Quarter Sticks, and “Adult Snappers” illegal across the country.

In 2012, most states allowed some types of consumer fireworks permitted by federal regulations. However, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Vermont were only allowed the use of wire or wood stick sparklers and other novelty items. States that banned all consumer fireworks were Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

No matter what you find online, contact your local fire department to find out if your fireworks are legal and where you are allowed to launch them. The Office of Compliance and Field Operations oversees enforcement activities of fireworks regulations through surveillance of imported products and by conducting routine inspections, focused on reducing the number of fireworks-related deaths and injuries.

Buying fireworks legally

US Fireworks, an online fireworks retailer, conveys the following message: “US Fireworks sells only consumer fireworks that have been certified by the CPSC. We can legally ship fireworks anywhere in the United States. Unfortunately, state and local ordinances may ban certain fireworks. As a result, the responsibility for complying with State and local laws falls upon you (the buyer).”

Visit Texas Fireworks Safety and call your local fire department (and neighborhood association if you have one) before the 4th, so you can kick back and enjoy the evening full of colors, safe blasts, and good memories.