We all know them well—the snaps, crackles, pops and thunderous explosions of annual Fourth of July fireworks. We marvel at the grand, professionally staged displays that tower over cities, towns and sporting venues throughout Ohio, while many of us indulge our pyrotechnic yearnings by setting off fireworks of all sizes, shapes and varieties during backyard barbeques and get-togethers.
Yet what should be a day of celebration far too often turns tragic when fireworks accidents send scores of people to area emergency rooms. Accidents from fireworks can cause severe burns, injuries to the hands, eyes and face, and even blindness or hearing loss. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 230 people on average go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the Fourth of July holiday.
Most children cannot adequately ensure their own safety, so tragically, they are especially prone to the dangers of fireworks.
Besides personal injury, fireworks can also cause significant property damage. Fireworks start more fires nationwide on the Fourth of July than all other causes combined.
Whether it’s the Fourth of July or any other day, it’s best to leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals; they are most prepared to handle a potentially dangerous situation. Yet this Independence Day, many of us will find ourselves in environments, including backyards, parks and other public areas, where fireworks are being ignited. Therefore, it’s essential to stay aware in such situations and keep safety at the forefront of your mind.
Ohio Fireworks Law
There are three types of fireworks in Ohio: 1) trick and novelty; 2) 1.3G (display fireworks); and 3) 1.4G (consumer fireworks).
1) Trick and Novelty Fireworks: Trick and novelty fireworks (also known as exempted 1.4G fireworks) include sparklers, snaps, glow snakes and smoke bombs. Generally, these can be sold anywhere in Ohio and can be used anywhere in Ohio. However, some local communities have passed law that prevents these from being sold also.
2) 1.3G Fireworks: These are also known as display or exhibitor fireworks and include aerial shells that are fired from mortars. 1.3 fireworks can only be sold by a licensed manufacturer, wholesaler, or out-of-state shipper—and they can only be sold to a licensed manufacturer, wholesaler or exhibitor. Likewise, they can only be discharged by a licensed exhibitor in accordance with Ohio laws regarding exhibitions.
3) 1.4G Fireworks: These are commonly referred to as consumer fireworks. They include firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles and fountains. A licensed manufacturer or wholesaler can only sell 1.4G fireworks. Anyone over the age of 18 may purchase these, but they must sign a form stating that they will transport the fireworks outside the state of Ohio within 48 hours (or 72 hours for non-residents of Ohio). 1.4G fireworks cannot legally be discharged in the state of Ohio.
Ohio is known as a “novelty and trick” firework state, meaning that sparklers, snaps, glow snakes and smoke bombs are legal to discharge in the state of Ohio. These can generally be purchased anywhere in Ohio and used anywhere in the state. However, fire officials urge extreme caution when using these items—and, you may want to check with your local municipality for ordinances on when and where these can be discharged in your community.
Conversely, as stated earlier, firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, and fountains are illegal to discharge in the state. While they may be sold by a licensed seller and purchased by someone over the age of 18, the purchaser must certify they will transport the fireworks outside of the state within 48 hours.
Also, aerial shells fired from a mortar can only be sold by a licensed manufacturer to a licensed exhibitor who possesses a proper permit. These can only be discharged by a licensed exhibitor with the proper permits issued by local fire and police departments. If you do not have the proper permits, it's illegal for you to fire off aerial shells from a mortar.
Why Do Fireworks Accidents Happen?
Fireworks accidents have several causes. They can result from shoddy fireworks—i.e., fireworks that aren’t produced by licensed manufacturers—or fireworks that are tampered with after they’re manufactured. Non-licensed fireworks aren’t subject to the same laws, regulations, standards and inspections that licensed fireworks are, and therefore, their consistency, stability and reliability cannot be officially ensured. This includes fireworks constructed from mail order kits, which are illegal and certainly dangerous to assemble or use.
Many times, though, fireworks accidents occur through the negligence of others before, during and after ignition.
Accidents involving powerful illegal fireworks are particularly serious. Fireworks such as cherry bombs, M-80s, M-100s and silver salutes are extremely dangerous and illegal to possess or discharge in the state of Ohio. They should only be handled by those legally authorized to do so; when they’re not, serious accidents can result.
Even sparklers, while seemingly innocent, burn at up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt gold. In 2014, sparklers caused 1,400 injuries, and 1,000 of those victims were age 14 or younger.
Injuries from fireworks can result in thousands of dollars in medical costs. Burns are the most common injury caused by fireworks. Though minor burns may heal without medical attention, third-degree burns may require extensive medical treatment such as skin grafts. Additionally, fireworks-related injuries often result in high rehabilitative costs, lost wages and other damages.
No Cost Evaluation
Whether it’s through the result of improper use or a product defect, a fireworks-related injury can be devastating. If you, a family member or a friend has been injured in a firework-related incident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Many injuries caused by fireworks – especially accidents involving children – are often a result of negligence, and in such cases, you may deserve compensation.
At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., our attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been forced to endure. The experienced lawyers of NRS have handled the widest array of personal injury and product liability cases over many years; we fight side by side with injured victims to make sure they and they families receive compensation for negligence that caused them to be hurt. We will aggressively pursue your case and work to help you obtain the medical care and compensation you need to rebuild your life.
In the event you or a loved one sustain a fireworks-related injury, contact the Ohio fireworks injury attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.
Fireworks Safety Resources
Ohio Department of Health Fireworks Safety Tips