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Happy Independence Day from USA.gov, GobiernoUSA.gov, and Kids.gov!

Image description: Sparklers can burn at 2,000F - hot as a blow torch! Know the risks. Prevent the tragedies.
Always use fireworks and sparklers with extreme caution and follow these safety tips to prevent injury:
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
Image and tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Image description: Sparklers can burn at 2,000F - hot as a blow torch! Know the risks. Prevent the tragedies.

Always use fireworks and sparklers with extreme caution and follow these safety tips to prevent injury:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Image and tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Are Fireworks Legal in Your State?

For many people, July 4th means fireworks. But before you use them, make sure they are permitted in your area and you know how to keep yourself and your friends and family safe.

Some states allow all or most types of consumer fireworks (formerly known as class C fireworks). These include shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, rockets, sparklers, firecrackers with no more than 50 milligrams of powder, and novelty items, such as snakes, airplanes, ground spinners, helicopters, fountains, and party poppers.

Other states only allow novelty fireworks or ban fireworks completely.

This summary of regulations is accurate as of June 1, 2013:

  • Alabama - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Alaska - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Arizona - Allows only novelty fireworks.

  • Arkansas - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • California - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Colorado - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Connecticut - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Delaware - Bans all consumer fireworks.

  • District of Columbia - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Florida - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Georgia - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Hawaii - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Idaho - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Illinois - Allows only sparklers and/or other novelties.

  • Indiana - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Iowa - Allows only sparklers and/or other novelties.

  • Kansas - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Kentucky - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Louisiana - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Maine - Allows only sparklers and/or other novelties.

  • Maryland - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Massachusetts - Bans all consumer fireworks.

  • Michigan - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Minnesota - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Mississippi - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Missouri - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Montana - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Nebraska - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Nevada - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • New Hampshire - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • New Jersey - Bans all consumer fireworks.

  • New Mexico - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • New York - Bans all consumer fireworks.

  • North Carolina - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • North Dakota - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Ohio - Allows only sparklers and/or other novelties.

  • Oklahoma - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Oregon - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Pennsylvania - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Puerto Rico - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Rhode Island - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • South Carolina - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • South Dakota - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Tennessee - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Texas - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Utah - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Vermont - Allows only sparklers and/or other novelties.

  • Virginia - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Washington - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • West Virginia - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Wisconsin - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

  • Wyoming - Allows some or all types of consumer fireworks.

Learn more about fireworks safety and laws (PDF).

Image description: Fireworks explode near the U.S. Capitol on July 4.
Photo from the Architect of the Capitol

Image description: Fireworks explode near the U.S. Capitol on July 4.

Photo from the Architect of the Capitol

Firework Injury Stats and Safety Tips

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides advice on fireworks safety and statistics about fireworks injuries. If you plan to use fireworks this Fourth of July, read this first.

From the CPSC:

Fireworks Injuries

Fireworks. They are synonymous with our celebration of Independence Day. Yet, the thrill of fireworks can also bring pain, and even death. In 2011, CPSC staff conducted a study of fireworks injuries from June 17 to July 17. Here’s what we learned.

  • 200 people on average go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.
  • 65% of these fireworks injuries in 2011 occurred during the month surrounding July 4th.
  • Illegal and homemade fireworks were involved in all 4 fireworks-related deaths reported to CPSC in 2011

Most Injured Body Parts

  • 46%: Hands and fingers
  • 17%: Eyes
  • 17%: Heads, faces, and ears
  • 5%: Trunk
  • 4%: Arms
  • 11%: Legs
  • More than half the injuries were burns.

Injuries by Fireworks Type

  • 17%: Sparklers
  • 14%: Reloadable Shells
  • 13%: Firecrackers
  • 7%: Roman Candles
  • 6%: Bottle Rockets
  • 6%: Novelties
  • 2%: Multiple Tubes
  • 1%: Fountains
  • 3%: Public Display
  • 29%: Unspecified

Injuries by Age

  • 40%: 25-44
  • 14%:45-64
  • 10%: 10-14
  • 10%: 15-19
  • 9%: 20-24
  • 9%: 5-9
  • 7%: 0-4
  • 1%: 65+

Injuries by Gender

  • 68%: male
  • 32%: female
  • Males were most injured from firecrackers, sparklers, bottle rockets, novelty devices, Roman candles, and reloadable shells.

Fireworks Safety Tips

  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying our using them.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

Find more fireworks safety tips.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 2011 Fireworks Annual Report