Hammerschmidt Law Corporation will be closed on Monday, July 4th. The 4th is the time to celebrate our nation’s freedom and to fellowship with family and friends.
Fireworks have been a part of 4th of July celebrations since the first celebration of Independence Day in 1777. Each year the tradition continues with a fantastic show of patriotism across the United States. For most Americans, Independence Day isn’t complete without a rousing array of fireworks.
While fireworks are fun and entertaining, it’s important to keep in mind the legal and safety issues presented by mishandling fireworks. Fireworks are responsible for about 20,000 fires each year. According to the National Council on Fireworks Safety, more than 10,000 people each year are severely injured by fireworks, and 40% of those injuries come from illegal fireworks. In addition, 45% of those injuries involved children 14 or younger.
California allows some consumer fireworks but only if they are non-aerial and non-explosive. Fireworks that are illegal in California include firecrackers, roman candles, chasers, wire and wooden stick sparklers, and skyrockets. Fireworks that are legal in California include ground and handheld sparkling devices, cylindrical and cone fountains, wheel and ground spinners, and illuminating torches. Fireworks for sale must appear on the approved list issued annually by the State Fire Marshall’s office. Anyone 16 years or older is able to purchase the fireworks described above, but only between noon on June 28 through noon on July 6, and only from approved vendors in jurisdictions that allow firework sales. (If in doubt, check with your local police or fire department.)
Be aware that those who don’t abide by their state’s fireworks laws could face hefty fines or even jail time. Or, worse, if your fireworks hurt people or cause damage to property, not only will you cause unintentional pain and suffering, you could end up having to pay medical bills or for property damage bills. With that in mind, knowing the legal guidelines for firework displays isn’t enough. It’s important to take appropriate precautions and launch fireworks with safety in mind.
With these fireworks tips, you can party like it’s 1777 again (without hurting yourself or others):
- Once you confirm that your state allows the use of fireworks, read and follow the directions on your fireworks before using them.
- Beware of suspicious sellers that may sell you dangerous or malfunctioning fireworks, and never make your own fireworks.
- When using fireworks, always make sure there is adult supervision and don’t let small children near fireworks.
- Always light fireworks one at a time and outdoors. Make sure you have water nearby, and avoid arid, hot areas.
- Never point fireworks at another person or animal.
- Carry fireworks in metal or glass containers, not in your pocket or in a flammable container.
- Whoever is shooting the fireworks must wear proper eye protection and make sure their body is not in the way of the firework.
- Before using, store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
- After use, dispose of fireworks safely by placing them in water and putting them in the trash can.
One of the most dangerous parts of the Fourth of July is the increase in drunk driving that occurs over the holiday. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 4th of July is the second deadliest day for drunk driving next to New Years Day. These accidents are entirely avoidable if you plan ahead–don’t drink and drive, and if you do drink, make arrangements to get home safely!
Have an exciting, law-abiding, and safe Fourth of July celebration!