June 28, 2011
LIMA — Fireworks are to the Fourth of July like apples are to pie, but when handled improperly, they can turn Independence Day into something more dangerous than festive.So this year, as the celebrations rev up, be careful around things that go boom and pop, sparkle or fizz. It might seem all in good fun, but fireworks aren't toys and the damage they can inflict will put a definite damper on the holiday.Perhaps one of the most important facts to know regarding those crackling wonder lights is that not all fireworks are legal in Ohio. Adults can legally buy fireworks here, but not all fireworks are legal to discharge within the state. A waiver must be signed at purchase agreeing to take items like firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles out of Ohio before discharging them, according to a news release from the Ohio Department of Commerce. That's right. You can buy them here, but be sure to light them over the border. It's actually a first-degree misdemeanor for non-licensed individuals to discharge fireworks in Ohio, to falsify an application when purchasing fireworks or to possess them for more than 48 hours without taking them out of Ohio, according to the news release. First-time offenders are subject to up to a $1,000 fine and six months' imprisonment.“Anything that booms or pops is illegal,” said Inspector Chris Jackson, head of the fire prevention unit for the Lima Fire Department.Well, gee. That's enough to take the fizz out of your firecracker.But before it totally rains on your Fourth of July picnic — there are some legal fireworks you can use in Ohio. Sparklers and trick and novelty devices are legit — anything that smokes, sparkles, snaps and snakes, according to the news release. Take heed, however. Even though these types of fireworks are legal, and may not pack the big boom or pop of their illegal counterparts, they are still potentially dangerous. Fireworks — both legal and illegal varieties — can cause injuries and property damage. “Nothing (with fireworks) is ever completely safe,” Jackson said.Sparklers can burn at up to 1,800 degrees, which is hot enough to melt gold. Severe injuries can also cause blindness or hearing loss, according to the news release. Jackson added that injuries to fingers, hands and faces are common, and house or roof fires can also be sparked by improper use of fireworks.About 9,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries in 2009, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Children under the age of 15 accounted for more than 39 percent of those injuries. If someone does gets burned, the state fire marshal's office recommends running cool water over the wound for two or three minutes. If the burn is severe, seek medical attention.There is one way, however, to completely avoid injuries this fourth of July and guarantee a good time. “The best way for Ohioans to prevent fireworks injuries is to attend a licensed, professional fireworks exhibition,“ said State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers. “Keep in mind that even trick and novelty fireworks, like sparklers, are inherently dangerous and can cause serious injury.”So grab a lawn chair, your cooler and your kids and go to a real fireworks show put on by people who know what they're doing. There will be plenty to choose from, including the Star Spangled Spectacular scheduled for July 4 at Faurot Park in Lima and various festivals and celebrations around the area.