Fireworks shows can be fun to watch, especially when there is a big, city-wide spectacular on the Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve. However, if you enjoy fireworks, you may have noticed that the ones you can buy at a roadside stand are not nearly as impressive as the ones that are used in professional shows. One reason why is because different states have different laws regarding fireworks, especially in which fireworks are available to consumers (as opposed to professionals, such as the ones who mastermind those big displays for the public).
Today, consumer fireworks are legal for purchase in 46 states and Washington, DC. Ohio, Vermont, and Illinois only allow the purchase of sparklers and other novelty-type fireworks, and Massachusetts does not permit the sale of fireworks at all. Critics of these fireworks bans look at how easily people can cross state lines to buy fireworks, especially in the small state of Massachusetts. They also look at how much safety regulations on fireworks have increased over the past few decades, so promoting good education regarding fireworks may be more effective at preventing injuries than banning them altogether.
Consumer fireworks that can be purchased in most states include Roman candles, sparklers, poppers, snakes, helicopters, ground spinners, and multiple tube fireworks. They must have fewer than 50mg of gunpowder and follow some other regulations. Additionally, the fuses on consumer fireworks have to burn for at least three seconds but no more than nine seconds, to help ensure that they do not explode in the face of the person who is lighting them.
If you enjoy using consumer fireworks, make sure that you check with your state’s regulations concerning how you need to use them (unless you live in a state where they are illegal). There are probably regulations regarding how far outside of city limits you have to be and required distance from a body of water. Make sure that you have water nearby that you can use to put out any fire that may erupt. Also, make sure that you carefully read the safety information on the fireworks to prevent injury in case the fireworks malfunction.
Keep in mind that while fireworks can be fun to play with, they are also dangerous and require caution when using them. They are explosives and can cause fires and physical injury; people die every year from fireworks that did not explode correctly. So have fun and be safe!