(Ohio News Connection) – When it comes to the “rockets’ red glare” and “bombs bursting in air,” fire officials are imploring Ohioans to leave consumer-grade fireworks to the professionals this Independence Day weekend.
Sparklers, snaps and other trick and novelty fireworks are the only category allowed to be discharged legally in Ohio without a license. With other types such as bottle rockets and firecrackers, said state Fire Marshal Jeff Hussey, there’s a far greater risk of fire and personal injury.
“In fact, within the last 24 hours, we’ve had one fatality in the state based on consumer use of fireworks in an illegal setting,” he said. “Every year, we see half a dozen to a dozen significant injuries – loss of eyes or body parts – because of illegal use of fireworks.”
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s latest Fireworks Injury Report, some 9,100 people in the United states were treated at emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries last year. Hussey encouraged Ohioans to avoid illegal fireworks altogether – and if they want to see the big ones, to attend a public display.
Sherry Williams, president and chief executive of Prevent Blindness Ohio, said more than one in three people who sustained a fireworks injury last year was a child younger than 15. She said folks don’t often realize they are compromising the safety of others when they set off illegal fireworks.
“The noise disruption – pets that are afraid and run, veterans with PTSD who are affected by any loud, surprising noises – many, many groups are affected as innocent bystanders by consumer discharge,” she said.
That’s why Williams is concerned about pending legislation in the Ohio Legislature. She said it would allow consumer fireworks discharge at any time of day, any day of the year – and with minimal safety restrictions in place.
“Ohio, right now, is one of the four safest states when it comes to fireworks and fireworks laws,” she said. “There have been many attempts over the years to legalize consumer discharge of fireworks, the latest now being considered by General Assembly. ”
Senate Substitute Bill 72 and House Bill 253 have not received votes.
This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.