Fourth of July is just around the corner! This year, the celebration will be different, as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our everyday lives and special celebrations. Most notably, for July 4, 2020, many local towns have cancelled fireworks displays. This means that many Pennsylvanians are considering purchasing fireworks to have private shows. When hosting backyard displays, it is important know about firework safety during COVID-19.

As of October 30, 2017, it is legal for Pennsylvania residents to purchase “Class C” or consumer grade fireworks. A consumer must be 18 years or older to purchase “Class C” fireworks. Fireworks can only contain up to 50 milligrams of explosive material. Display fireworks, which contain 130 milligrams of explosive material, can only be purchased by professionals.

While fireworks create amazing nighttime spectacles, they can be dangerous if handled improperly. In 2017, over 12,000 people were injured while launching fireworks. Of these injuries, 1,200 were from less powerful devices like sparklers and firecrackers. If you choose to have your own backyard display this year, consider these firework safety tips during COVID-19:

1. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. If you are planning to have a fireworks show for the neighborhood, practice good hygiene. Wear face masks, social distance, and wash hands frequently. That said, be careful wearing masks around fireworks. Keep explosive materials away from exposed body parts, such as people’s faces.

2. Follow Township/Borough ordinances. Many townships and boroughs have ordinances regulating the launch of fireworks and noise. Some ordinances restrict the launch of fireworks. Others do allow fireworks, but there are certain rules you must follow for proper launch. If you’re unsure of the requirements, contact your township or borough. Many ordinances are posted on township/borough websites.

3. Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires a year. Of that number, 1,300 are structure fires. If you live in a neighborhood, launch fireworks in an open space. Avoid setting off fireworks within striking distance of houses and trees. If your backyard is heavily wooded, go to a nearby open field or clearing.

4. Only adults should launch fireworks. If older children are interested in assisting, make sure there is adult supervision at all times. Never leave fireworks unattended if young children are nearby.

5. Light only one device at a time. Keep a bucket of water nearby.

6. Fireworks and alcohol do not mix. If you’ve been drinking, designate someone else (who is sober) to light the fireworks.

7. Do not point fireworks at people or objects.

8. While it is fun to bring your pets to celebrations, consider leaving your pet inside during the fireworks show. Your pet may not like the noise. In addition, your pet may pose a safety risk if allowed to roam freely near the launch site.

9. Do not try to relight a malfunctioning firework. If the firework is a dud, put it aside and move on to the next firework.

10. Soak used and “dud” fireworks in water for several hours after launch before discarding.

11. Sparklers can be fun, but they are often dangerous. Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees. This is a temperature that can cause serious burns to human skin. If you have young children, instead, consider using glow sticks or colored streamers.

Following these tips will help to promote a safer environment and greater enjoyment of the day’s festivities. No matter how you choose to celebrate this July 4, all of us at Graham & Mauer, P.C. hope you have fun and stay safe!