How to Safely Handle Fireworks

In the five boroughs of New York City, it is illegal to use, buy, sell, or transport all consumer fireworks, including sparklers. Private vehicles which are used to transport fireworks may be seized by the police. The city takes this so seriously that it has a program where you may receive up to $1,000 for a tip that leads to the arrest and conviction of people selling, storing, or transporting fireworks within New York City.

But in 2014, and for the first time in 100 years, New York state laws governing the sale, possession and use of fireworks were relaxed, somewhat. The statutes now allow the very limited sale and use of some (not all) consumer fireworks, but large parts of those “no fireworks laws” still remain in effect.

No person under the age of 18 is allowed to handle fireworks (including sparkling devices) in the state of New York, even the ones that are newly legal. Those who are caught allowing a person under the age of 18  to handle any form of firework could be charged with a misdemeanor crime. So, if you light a sparkler on a wooden stick (which is legal in these upstate counties) and hand it to your 13-year-old, even for just a second, you’re technically committing a crime and, if arrested, face fines of up to several hundred dollars.

If you live or play in one of the counties where fireworks are legal, you’re still quite limited as to what you can buy and set-off. These are the fireworks that are legal to use in the upstate counties referred to above where “novelty fireworks” are now legal:

  • Sparkling fountains
  • Sparklers on wooden sticks (but not metal sticks)
  • Smoking devices
  • Snakes
  • Confetti-filled party poppers
  • Paper-wrapped snappers.

The fireworks below remain illegal to buy and set off in all of New York State unless you are part of an organization or association and have the proper permits. This list essentially includes anything that shoots up in the air or involves a projectile:

  • Firecrackers
  • Bottle rockets
  • Roman candles
  • Spinners
  • All aerial fireworks.

So with the limited amount of fireworks you are allowed to use, and once you find a location where you can legally set them off, here is a safety check list provided by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).

  • Remember, it’s illegal throughout New York State to allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Don’t buy fireworks that are packaged in brown paper. This is often a sign they were made for professional displays and could be dangerous to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Wooden sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. And metal sparklers burn much hotter than that.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully ignited.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water, a garden hose, and/or sand handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding, it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure the fireworks you have are legal in your area before buying, transporting, or using them.

If you have questions or concerns about a personal injury case in New York, we encourage you to contact Kaplan Lawyers PC to learn more about your legal options. Call us today or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.