Five people were killed and 9,100 people were injured across the nation last year handling consumer fireworks and more than a third of the injuries — 36 percent — were suffered by children 15 years and younger.
As one would expect with annual Fourth of July festivities, 62 percent of all of the injuries occurred last year from June 22 through July 22, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports. It’s a prime time for potential injury and the best time to employ an overabundance of caution.
Today, two days before that backyard picnic, family gathering or holiday party is a good time to face the facts: All kinds of fireworks — even sparklers — can cause serious injuries. More than 500 people suffered burns from sparklers last year and more than 200 others visited an emergency room after setting off bottle rockets.
This Fourth of July will be the second that Pennsylvania residents can legally purchase and use “Class C” or “consumer-grade” fireworks, including firecrackers, Roman candles and bottle rockets.
The state fireworks law changed on Oct. 30, 2017, after Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill 542 into law. Under the law, the Fireworks Act of 1939 was repealed and replaced in its entirety.
Consumers can now purchase and use fireworks that contain a maximum of 50 milligrams of explosive material. This expansion includes those fireworks that were previously only available to out-of-state residents.
“Display fireworks,” which contain more than 130 milligrams of explosive materials and professional-grade aerial shells containing more than 60 grams of pyrotechnic compositions, are still only legally available for use by professionals with a permit from the municipality where the display will take place.
Under the new state fireworks law, consumer-grade fireworks can be purchased by anyone age 18 and older, but there are specific restrictions on their use:
n They cannot be ignited or discharged on public or private property without the express permission of the property owner.
n They cannot be ignited from within or set off toward a motor vehicle or building.
n They cannot be discharged within 150 feet of an occupied structure.
n They cannot be discharged by a person who is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or another drug.
Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 16,900 outside or other fires, causing an average of three deaths, 40 injuries and $43 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
We certainly wish everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July this week and urge anyone using any kind of fireworks to thoroughly read the safety instructions, follow all safety guidelines and use extreme caution.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.