Safety and law enforcement officials are reminding Pennsylvanians to be safe with fireworks as they celebrate the Fourth of July holiday.
Pennsylvania law allows the use of small "novelty" fireworks, which are ground-based and include sparklers and trick noise makers, but items such as firecrackers, Roman candles, cherry bombs and M-80s are illegal.
"The only fireworks permitted for the public's use are sparklers and devices containing extremely small amounts of powder; no more than in a toy-pistol cap," State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said.
Display fireworks that are shot into the air, such as those at organized celebrations and sporting events, are prohibited for use by consumers.
Such aerial-based fireworks are sold at facilities licensed by the state Department of Agriculture, and may be purchased only by out-of-state residents with identification or in-state residents with a municipal permit.
"Fireworks are a highlight of Independence Day celebrations and can provide great entertainment when purchased and used legally," Agriculture Secretary George Greig said. "Stay safe by buying fireworks only from reputable in-state dealers."
Officials offered the following safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety:
- Fireworks should only be used outdoors;
- Always have water handy;
- Only use fireworks as intended. Do not try to alter or combine them;
- Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water prior to disposal;
- Use common sense. Anyone igniting fireworks should wear safety glasses, and spectators should stay a safe distance away;
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix;
- Never use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives – illegal fireworks should be reported to local law enforcement;
- Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type. Sparklers should only be used under close adult supervision;
- Always remain standing and at least six feet from others while using sparklers;
- Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers;
- Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person;
- Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time;
- Sparkler wires and sticks remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop the spent sparkler directly into a bucket of water.
For more information on Pennsylvania laws regarding fireworks, visit the Pennsylvania State Police web site at www.psp.state.pa.us and click on "Frequently Asked Questions about Fireworks."