The Fourth of July and Fireworks Laws

The Fourth of July is here, and it’s probably best to leave fireworks to trained professionals, so you can focus on other things — hey, how long has that potato salad been sitting out? But every year more than a few Americans wonder what their state and local laws have to say on the purchase and use of fireworks (from sparklers to M-80s) because nothing says independence quite like flaunting the freedom to suffer third degree burns in your own garage. Luckily, there are a number of reputable websites that sum up each state’s fireworks laws quite nicely. Two of the better state-by-state collections come from the American Pyrotechnics Association and the National Council on Fireworks.

While these resources will give you the do’s and don’ts of buying and using fireworks at the state level, to get the most accurate and up-to-date understanding of fireworks laws where you live, you might want to start by contacting your local law enforcement agency or fire department (at the city, county, or town level). Local laws on fireworks may be stricter than those at the state level, so what’s legal in other parts of your state may actually be against the law where you live.

On the safety side of things, for everything you ever wanted to know about the risks of using fireworks (and let’s face it, a few horror stories can come in handy when you’re trying to educate kids) check out the 2010 Report on Fireworks-Related Deaths and Emergency Department-Treated Injuries, from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The U.S. Fire Administration offers these warnings and tips on fireworks. CPSC also reminds you that fireworks big and small can pose risks and provides this online fireworks safety portal.