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Fireworks Safety

Fireworks are as much a part of July 4th celebrations as picnics and apple pie. But fireworks can be dangerous. Today, we would like to remind you of the laws regarding fireworks and share some fireworks safety tips for you and your family (and pets).  fireworks safety - Altizer Law PC

According to the National Safety Council, in 2016 at least four people died and about 11,000 were injured severely enough to need medical attention after a fireworks related injury. Most injuries are caused were caused by amateurs igniting illegal, professional grade, or homemade fireworks. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments are called to more than 50,000 fires caused by fireworks every year.

Most of the nation’s safety agencies recommend that amateurs not ignite fireworks at all. Instead, they suggest leaving the fireworks shows to professionals. They also warn that any fireworks can be dangerous, including sparklers (which can burn at 2,000 degrees – enough heat to melt some metal).

Virginia Fireworks Law

In the commonwealth of Virginia, it is illegal to possess, use, store, sale, or handle any firework that explodes, rises into the air or travels laterally, or to fire projectiles into the air. Some of these illegal fireworks are better known as firecrackers, torpedo, bottle rockets, and mortars. The offense for illegal fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

However, fireworks that stay on the ground, like pinwheels, fountains and sparklers, are legal through the state code.

Several types of fireworks are legal in Virginia:

  • Sparklers
  • Fountains
  • Pharaoh’s serpents
  • Caps for pistols
  • Pinwheels

Keep in mind that municipalities may ban any of these fireworks or may ban them entirely.

Possession, sale or use of illegal fireworks typically results in a fine of up to $2,500 or up to one year in jail.

Virginia law allows use of sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents, caps for pistols, or pinwheels, but localities can ban them entirely. Generally possessing, selling or using illegal fireworks results in a fine up to $2,500 or up to one year in jail, so be careful where you buy fireworks and make sure you can use them.

Fireworks Safety

The following safety tips are suggested by most safety agencies.

  • Never put off fireworks when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Do not allow young children to handle fireworks.
  • Never allow children to handle fireworks unsupervised by an adult.
  • Never point fireworks in the direction of another person or animal.
  • Never put off fireworks indoors.
  • Use fireworks only in an open area, away from people, houses and flammable materials.
  • Anyone using fireworks or anyone standing nearby should wear protective glasses.
  • Do not put off fireworks in a container.
  • Never try to re-light dud fireworks.
  • Do not light more than one device at a time.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish fireworks that do not go off or to stop a fire.
  • Keep pets indoors and do what you can to protect them from the full noise of fireworks.
  • Soak used fireworks in water for several hours before disposing of them.
  • Report the use of illegal fireworks to the local police or fire department.

Treating Injuries

The most common injuries from fireworks are burns and eye injuries.

If someone has an eye injury, do not touch it or rub it. Don’t flush it with water. Don’t try to put medicine or ointment on it. Seek immediate medical help.

If someone is burned by fireworks, remove all clothing from the burned area. Call your doctor or go to an emergency room.

The staff of Altizer Law, P.C., wishes you a happy and safe July 4th. We hope your celebration is free of accidents or injuries. If, however, you or a loved one is injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, call trusted attorney  Bettina Altizer. We can talk with you and make a preliminary assessment of liability and damages.