Regardless of how Harrison Countians celebrate our nation's Independence Day-picnics, vacations or family reunions-the day usually concludes with fireworks. For many people, the Fourth of July is synonymous with fireworks.
In Harrison County, the local fireworks display is one of the year's biggest attractions. Even so, some people like to set off their own fireworks. When doing so, it is important to keep Kentucky's fireworks laws and safety measures in mind.
Many people have misconceptions about Kentucky's fireworks laws. Because Kentucky borders two states (Tennessee and Missouri) that have more open laws with regard to fireworks, most believe our state is stricter than others. Actually, 11 states have more restrictive laws, while nearly half of our nation's states have laws similar to Kentucky's.
Some of the stricter states prohibit the private use of all fireworks, while a few states have extremely permissive rules. Still others, such as Kentucky, allow only sparklers and other ground devices.
Kentucky law allows the sale and use of what is referred to as 'common fireworks.' These ground and hand-held sparkling devices, such as fountains, sparklers, wheels and ground spinners, can be purchased at retailers and roadside stands. In addition to these common fireworks, novelties and trick noisemakers, such as snakes, smoke bombs, snappers and loud whistlers are permitted.
Some states, such as Tennessee and Missouri, allow aerial devices. These devices, including skyrockets, Roman candles, aerial spinners and others, are prohibited in Kentucky. Audible ground fireworks, such as firecrackers and chasers, also are illegal in our state.
Even though these fireworks can be purchased legally in neighboring states, their use still is illegal in Kentucky. The penalties for breaking Kentucky's fireworks laws include a fine of up to $1,000, 30 days imprisonment or both.
Public displays of more elaborate fireworks are allowed, however, if the sponsoring organization is granted a permit by the local governments.
There are inherent dangers to fireworks, especially if used improperly. Following are safety guidelines to prevent injuries:
Do not allow young children to play with fireworks. Sparklers, commonly regarded as safe, are responsible for the most fireworks injuries to children 4 years old and younger.
Parents should always supervise older children who use fireworks. Make sure that you and your child have read directions and are aware of warnings. Most people think that the fuse is longer than it really is. You have, at most, about three seconds before the firework explodes.
Never place your face or any other body part over fireworks-even if you presume the fireworks are not lit.
Never try to relight fireworks that did not go off. Spray faulty fireworks with water.
Keep a hose or fire extinguisher nearby in case of malfunction or fire.
When finished with fireworks, hose down areas that could catch fire. Dont use fireworks during dry spells when grass or leaves can easily ignite.
Never use fireworks if you have been consuming alcohol.
Use fireworks in an open area; keep spectators at a safe distance.
Place fireworks on solid, level ground.
The safest alternative may be to leave fireworks to the pros. Harrison County offers an extensive fireworks display on the July 4th this year.