With the Fourth of July right around the corner, many people are getting ready for quite a show. Everyone knows that America’s Independence Day is celebrated with fireworks. These colorful controlled explosives will be lighting up the night and filling the air with a never ending sound of thunder. A good Fourth of July fireworks show is quite a sight to behold.
There are thousands of options to choose from when it comes to seeing a fireworks display, many Americans prefer to put on their own show. Not only does this let them control the action, it lets them be a part of everything.
While this sounds great, it can also be dangerous. Thousands of homes are set on fire every year by personal fireworks. This has led to some state being more restrictive with fireworks than others. California is definitely one of the stricter states, and for arguably good reasons.
The Laws and Why They Exist
As a state that is famous for getting multiple wildfires a year, it is understandable why there are some regulations against fireworks. As fun as fireworks are, they are still explosives with the potential to be dangerous. It is very easy for someone to injure themselves, another person, or cause a fire with fireworks. In order to reduce all of those risks, the state of California tightly regulates fireworks.
Within the state of California, all fireworks are classified into one of two groups:
- Safe and sane
Safe and sane fireworks can be used by any legal adult, provided it is permitted in the city or area. Many places in California have outlawed the use or sale of state approved fireworks in order to prevent fires caused reckless use of the explosives.
All safe and sane fireworks will come with a seal from the office of the California State Fire Marshall showing that they are permitted for public use. Due to state law, these kinds of fireworks can only be purchased from June 28th to July 6th from a stationary vendor. After that set timeframe, all public fireworks sales within the state come to a halt. This is due to a state law which limits the sale of safe and sane fireworks.
Dangerous fireworks cannot be sold to the general public. These are the kind of fireworks that one would see if they went to a professional fireworks display. Only licensed professionals are allowed to purchase, transport, and set of these kinds of fireworks within the state of California.
Breaking most fireworks safety laws can result in a misdemeanor charge. The penalties can include:
- Up to one year in jail.
- A maximum fine of $1,000.
- Some combination of the two.
How to Handle Fireworks Safely
One should never forget that fireworks can be dangerous if misused or handled improperly. A person needs to be very responsible when using fireworks, which is why only legal adults are allowed to use dangerous fireworks. In order to buy or use any safe and sane fireworks, that’s anything one could buy from a fireworks stand, a person has to be over the age of 16. Giving a minor under the age of 16 fireworks is illegal, and can result in a misdemeanor charge.
When it comes to setting off fireworks, there are a few things that a person should always do to ensure everyone’s safety.
- Have a bucket of water close by to dispose of used fireworks. By soaking the fireworks after use, they are prevented from going off again if they were not finished.
- Always have a hose connected to a water source ready to go in case of a fire. Hopefully this won’t be needed, but just in case.
- Never throw or point fireworks at people. They are explosives and they can hurt someone.
- Never use fireworks near dry grass or other flammable materials. These can easily alight and start to burn out of control.
- Never use fireworks under a roof. The roof can be manmade, or a natural one such as under a tree.
- If a firework is a dud, do not attempt to fix it or set it off again. Doing so is an easy way to have a firework explode in someone’s face.
Always be aware of local laws. Fireworks laws frequently vary by community, so a person will need to do some research before setting off any fireworks.
Pets and Fireworks
While we humans love to watch fireworks and listen to them explode, our pets don’t really enjoy them. Pets don’t understand fireworks very well, and as such, some can get very frightened by the loud explosions and the bright colored lights. It is important to remember this, and consider a pet’s needs this Fourth of July.
For dogs, prep work can start earlier in the day. Take dog for a long walk so they will have less energy to devote to being scared that evening. On top of that, create a safe space for pets that is away from windows so that the pet has a nice, comforting place to sleep. Close blinds and curtains while leaving lights and a radio or TV on. This will help keep out flashing lights and help muffle the sounds of the explosions. If the pet has to stay outside, double check that all gates and the fence are secure.
Lastly, try to keep the pet distracted with toys and treats, and don’t make a big deal about the fireworks going off. Doing so could reinforce the scared behavior and make things worse.
Happy Fourth of July!
The Fourth of July is meant to be a fun holiday, and it truly can be. Just be sure to follow the laws and keep everyone happy and safe. This includes pets, of course. After all, nobody wants to end up on the news because they set someone’s house on fire.
Happy Independence Day everyone!