By Marc Kovac
Dry conditions and illegal backyard fireworks could make for a deadly combination over the coming Independence Day holiday, state officials said Wednesday.
“My strong message this year is don’t flick a lighter, don’t light a match, don’t set off a firework, especially because of the conditions we have,” said state Fire Marshal Larry Flowers. “What will happen is something that will be quickly out of control and something you won’t be prepared for.”
Flowers, Prevent Blindness Ohio and other opponents of so-called backyard fireworks displays offered the warning as part of their annual plea for residents to refrain from all fireworks — even sparklers and other novelties that are legal in the state.
Consumer-class fireworks, including bottle rockets and Roman candles, can be purchased in Ohio by anyone 18 or older, but they cannot be used in the state. Instead, they must be taken over the state’s borders within 48 hours of purchase. The illegal possession or discharge of such fireworks can result in a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Novelties, including sparklers, snakes, smoke bombs and snaps, are legal for backyard use, but they still can cause injuries, fireworks opponents said Wednesday.
Last year, 9,600 people nationwide were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, according to statistics compiled by Prevent Blindness Ohio. Nearly two-thirds of those injuries occurred within a month of the Fourth of July.
“As seemingly innocent as sparklers may sound, [they] can cause great harm and damage,” said Sherry Williams, president and chief executive officer of Prevent Blindness Ohio. “Last year, sparklers were the No. 1 firework-causing injury at 1,100 serious injuries treated in emergency rooms.”
Prevent Blindness Ohio advocates for a ban on all types of fireworks, including sparklers.
“Fireworks are extremely dangerous,” Williams said. “Do not purchase, use or store fireworks or sparklers of any type. Protect your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks and sparklers.
Ohio-specific statistics have not been compiled by the group.