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Fireworks safety: know the law, leave the show to the pros

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jul 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-02 18:30:09-04

For many families, the Fourth of July and fireworks just go together. But as the holiday approaches, officials are warning about the dangers and want to make sure Marylanders know the laws so they can celebrate the holiday safely. 

"Fireworks cause life-changing injuries. There are no safe fireworks," Lt. Kevin Williams with the Baltimore Fire Department said. 

Backyard fireworks are illegal in Maryland. Without proper permits and insurance, you face a misdemeanor fine and the dangers that come along with it. 

"Thousands of fireworks injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, often leading to permanent damage to eyes, hands and other body parts," Williams said. 

He says leave the show to the pros. The city show kicks off on July 4th at 9:30 at the Inner Harbor. For other displays, click here.

Consumer use of sparklers are illegal in Baltimore City, Ocean City, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties. In other counties, like Baltimore, some hand-held and ground-based sparklers are not considered fireworks so they are legal, but still need to be handled with caution. 

"Never point a firework or throw it at anyone. Never pick up an unexploded firework. Never hold a lit firework in your hand," Williams said. 

If sparklers are legal in your county, make sure the ones you buy have a gold label and do not contain chlorates or perchlorates. Williams suggests keeping them away from kids because they get extremely hot. 

"Sparklers can reach temperatures of well over 2000 degrees. Hotter than a blow torch," Williams said. 

Officials suggest giving glow sticks to kids to keep them entertained safely, or keep a bucket of water nearby. 

"My first investigation as a fire investigator had to do with a child who discarded a sparkler. He threw it in his trash can and set his house on fire," Fire Chief Niles Ford said. 

Any device that explodes, creates a loud noise, launches a projectile or moves along the ground is illegal. 

For a complete list of legal ground-based sparklers, click here.