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State stresses pyro safety

Fire marshals already fielding calls of unlicensed fireworks displays

Staff photo / Allie Vugrincic Warren G. Harding High School students watch fireworks during their graduation at the Elm Road Triple Drive-In in May.

Officials are concerned that more people in Ohio will host illegal fireworks displays because many official fireworks shows are being canceled.

“We encourage Ohioans to celebrate the July 4th holiday, but we want them to do it safely and legally,” Ken Klouda, chief of the State Fire Marshal’s Fire Prevention Bureau, said.

About 7,300 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms between June 21 and July 2 last year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2019 Fireworks Annual Report.

Even sparklers, which are among a group of fireworks that are legal to set off in Ohio, are “not without their risks,” Klouda said.

“Some of them can reach temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees and cause serious burn injuries, especially to young children,” he said in a news release.

Sparklers are in a class of legal trick and novelty fireworks — those that smoke, sparkle, snap and snake. Others are not legal.

An alternative to sparklers is glow sticks, Klouda said, adding, “They are just as fun as sparklers.”

Popular fireworks such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and firecrackers can be purchased legally in Ohio, but must be transported out of state within 48 hours.

Only licensed exhibitors are permitted to discharge these devices in the state.

“What makes consumer grade-fireworks like Roman Candles and bottle rockets so dangerous is the risk of injuring your hands, face, eyes and the associated burns that go along with those,” Klouda said.

The State Fire Marshal’s office and many local fire departments already have seen a surge in complaints regarding unlicensed fireworks displays this year, the fire marshal’s office says.

“These neighborhood fireworks displays are disruptive to families, disruptive to pets and wildlife, and can create a greater opportunity for devastating injuries,” Chief Jonathan Westendorf, president of the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Association, said.

The Fire Marshal’s Office also offers these tips:

• Only handle and discharge trick and novelty devices under adult supervision.

• Educate yourself on the hazards of each type of device being used.

• Carefully read and follow the label directions on the packaging of a trick and novelty device.

• Light only one sparkler at a time and hold it away from your body, as well as others.

• Sparklers only should be used by someone 12 years of age or older.

• Sparkler wires should be placed immediately in a bucket of water to avoid injury because they remain hot for a few minutes after burnout.

• Consider substituting sparklers for a safer alternative, such as glow sticks.

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