MIAMI COUNTY — As Independence Day approaches, local fire departments are asking residents to stay away from illegal fireworks and attend public displays instead.
Piqua Assistant Fire Chief Lee Adams said residents should only use fireworks they can purchase at gas stations or grocery stores, and should “absolutely not” use any higher grade fireworks in Ohio.
According to the Ohio State Bar Association, only “novelty and trick” fireworks such as glow worms, smoke bombs and party poppers may be used by non-licensed individuals.
“Anything above that, those items either have to be set off by a licensed exhibitor, or be taken out of the state of Ohio,” Adams said.
Adams said legal fireworks like sparklers still carry risk.
“You tend to think fireworks are just harmless fun, but oftentimes fireworks do result in unwanted injuries, and unwanted fires can do a lot of damage,” Adams said. “People pretty regularly injure themselves with fireworks.”
Troy Fire Chief Matthew Simmons said the safest way to see fireworks is to attend a public display.
“The best way to protect your family is to not use any fireworks at home,” Simmons said. “Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.”
Simmons said other things residents can do to protect themselves include close supervision of children, having an extinguisher or water bucket nearby, and avoiding lighting anything in a dry area.
Adams and Simmons both cautioned parents about allowing their children to use sparklers.
“Little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees,” Simmon said. “How about this? Let your young children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun, but they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.”
Adams said even the wires can prove to be a hazard.
“Folks will just allow kids to just drop those wires in the grass, and someone can either step on a wire or fall and get a wire embedded in the skin,” Adams said.
According to the National Fire Protection Agency, fireworks caused around 15,600 fires in 2013 alone, with 28 percent of those fires being reported on Independence Day.
Additionally, the agency reported that from June 20 to July 20, 2014, more than one quarter of fireworks-related emergency room visits were caused by sparklers.
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