If you're planning on celebrating Independence Day with a backyard fireworks display, better make sure you don't live in a state that bans them. Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts don't allow consumer fireworks.
"It's definitely fire safety and life safety," Michael G. Chionchio, Delaware's assistant state fire marshal, told Yahoo! Shine on the phone. "We want to save lives first and save property."
Those in violation of the law are subject to a misdemeanor leading to a fine or prison time for possession or to a felony punishable by up to several years in prison for injuring people or property.
Chionchio added that the ban, in place since the 1950s, made for "very low injuries" from fireworks. No apologies, here, for a ban, which covers fireworks made in other countries, homemade versions, and even sparklers: "We're very happy that they're outlawed in Delaware."
Massachusetts, which was one of the early adopters of the law to ban consumer fireworks, took an equally stern tone, linking fireworks to bomb-making.
"Massachusetts law enforcement and fire officials have long been concerned about people buying fireworks to create larger and more dangerous devices," said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan in a press release. "The Marathon bombers caused such harm and destruction with fireworks believed to have [been] purchased legally in our neighboring state of New Hampshire," he added.
Massachusetts residents caught with fireworks will have them seized and are subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
New York has been considering a bill to relax its total ban. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto a bill being considered by state lawmakers to allow sparklers to be sold in certain parts of the state, excluding the five boroughs of New York City. The mayor's state legislative director, Joseph Garba, cited the failed Times Square bomber in 2010 who purchased an M-88 out of state and then tried to ignite it.
In New Jersey, a consumer caught with fireworks is subject to a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days jail time.
Although these states are well within the minority, the American Pyrotechnics Association has put out a map to show what's allowed in each state.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission noted that fireworks were responsible for 8,700 injuries in 2012 - and that 60 percent of the injuries occur around July Fourth.
The organization urges those who do use fireworks to exercise commonsense caution:
- Make sure it's legal to set off fireworks where you live.
- Don't let young children play with sparklers, which can burn as hot as 2,000°F.
- Keep water nearby.
- Don't point a firework at someone else.
- Pets are often fearful of fireworks, so keep them indoors if possible.
More safety tips are at the National Council on Fireworks Safety site.