COLUMBUS – It can be fun to make a bang with fireworks when celebrating Independence Day, but the State Fire Marshal’s office has a grim reminder for Ohioans.
Not only are most fireworks illegal in Ohio, they’re also quite dangerous, according to Chief Josh Hobbs, head of the Fire and Explosions Investigations Bureau.
“People can obviously be burned significantly, lose limbs, significant eye injuries, burns, emulsions,” says Hobbs. “We’ve probably seen every level of injury that can possibly occur.”
Trick and novelty fireworks are legal in Ohio, and include sparklers and “party poppers” – items that can be purchased at local supermarkets or drug stores. But Hobbs warns there are risks when using them, and he encourages Ohioans to use caution and always have a water source nearby.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were eight fireworks-related deaths nationally in 2013, and hospitals treated more than 11,000 people for fireworks-related injuries.
Hobbs says many Ohioans are too focused on obtaining fireworks and having a celebration, instead of considering the impact on others around them.
“They really don’t think about ‘Well there’s a house right behind us, or there’s several houses around,’” he says. “They don’t give much thought to what could potentially happen. There could be people sleeping in the house and could be easily killed by an ensuing fire, which did happen last year in Ohio.”
Hobbs adds there’s a lot at stake for what some consider a little fun.
“If you’ve made the choice to break the law in terms of illegal fireworks, then consider the potential consequences that could follow,” he says. “And that doesn’t just mean the filing of any potential charges, but moreover the potential danger involved.”
A person violating the state’s fireworks law can face a first-degree misdemeanor, and a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted.