CLEVELAND - State Fire Marshal Robert R. Rielage cautions all Ohioans to stay safe and legal this Fourth of July fireworks season.
"Most fireworks illegal, and they are all inherently dangerous," said Rielage. The best way for Ohioans to celebrate America, as well as Ohio's bicentennial, is to attend their organized community display."
Rielage cited the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's 2001 statistics as an illustration of just how dangerous fireworks can be. Fireworks injuries sent 9,500 people to hospital emergencies rooms across the country in '01, the last year for which statistics are available. Approximately 74 percent of the injuries were burns to the hands, eyes and face. Children under the age of 15 comprised 47 percent of the victims. Even sparklers, popular among children, and considered harmless by most people, can reach temperatures above 1,200 Fahrenheit.
Under Ohio's fireworks law, stiff penalties can be applied for the illegal possession or discharge of fireworks. It is a first-degree misdemeanor for non-licensed individuals to discharge fireworks in Ohio, to falsify an application when purchasing fireworks, or to possess them for more than 48 or 72 hours without taking them to the designated out-of-state address. First-time offenders are subject up to a $1,000 fine and six months imprisonment. Subsequent violations become felonies of the fifth degree.