LIMA — As the Fourth of July rolls around, many across the region will be buying up fireworks to prep for celebration of the nation’s freedoms. To set them off legally, they’ll have to get out of the state.
Ohio is one of three states — along with Illinois and Vermont — that ban the use of consumer-grade fireworks, excluding novelty items like sparklers and smoke snakes.
But that doesn’t mean Ohioans can’t buy fireworks. Any resident over the age of 18 can purchase helicopters, cakes and roman candles. They just aren’t allowed to set them off.
The wonky set of restrictions has since led Ohio’s firework laws to gain the moniker of the “liar’s law.”
“In small towns and large cities alike, fireworks will light up Ohio nights throughout the week,” Ohio Attorney General David Yost said in a press release detailing firework’s legality. “Just make sure your own backyard isn’t ground zero for those red, white and blue pyrotechnics.”
Those setting off fireworks could face a first-degree misdemeanor, which could land someone in jail for up to six months and issued a $1,000 fine.
Even with the such potential punishments in place, many choose to ignore Ohio’s law. Busier-than-normal emergency rooms are common during the holiday as the combination of alcohol use and fireworks often add up to burn-related injuries.
Locally, Nurse Practitioner Katie Morgan has seen many come into Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center with firework-related injuries, such as burns caused by holding a sparkler for too long. She said other typical wounds seen on the Fourth of July are caused by lack of good judgment offset by alcohol, such as hand wounds caused by setting off a firework while holding the explosive.
“(Fireworks) can go into a crowd, or they can be a dud and explode in someone’s hands,” Morgan said.
The latest 2018 report on fireworks by the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that the Fourth of July holiday alone leads to two-thirds of recorded firework-related injuries — a total of 5,600. And that’s just direct injuries.
Fireworks can also cause fires, especially in dry heat if left unattended. There’s also an increased threat from dog bites — an indirect cause of fireworks — as many dogs can react negatively in large crowds when fireworks go off.
“Holiday weekends should be filled with celebrations and spending time with family and friends. Unfortunately, burns are a common cause of injury during the summer months, especially in July,” said Jennifer Snider, trauma injury prevention manager at Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center. “Fireworks cause life changing injuries. It is best to leave the firework show to the professionals.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.