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Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals on July 4

July 03, 2023

State fire and environmental officials are urging everyone to stay safe during the July 4 holiday, emphasizing fireworks safety amid the ongoing drought conditions and elevated wildfire risks.

The message is particularly timely, as a dry season has led to more wildfires (1,400) this year than all of 2022 (1,036), state officials said.

“While we remind residents every year that fireworks are not toys, this year has the added risk of inadvertently setting off a wildfire due to lack of rain and dry conditions throughout the state,” State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook said in a statement. “The safest way to enjoy fireworks during Independence Day is to enjoy fireworks displays managed by professionals.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Concerning counts:  Fireworks are responsible for 19,500 fires each year, and cause an average of $43 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Pa. rules:  Pennsylvanians who are at least 18 years old may purchase and use consumer-grade fireworks, although certain restrictions and local ordinances apply.
  • Top injuries:  A 2018 report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission indicated there were five nonprofessional fireworks-related deaths and 9,100 patients treated for fireworks injuries in hospital emergency rooms nationwide.
  • Key precautions:  Never allow children to play with fireworks, even sparklers; only allow adults to light fireworks one at a time, then quickly back away; never point or throw fireworks at another person; never pick up or try to relight fireworks that have not fully ignited, state officials noted.
  • Quotable:  “We have seen consistent elevated risks for wildfires this year, forcing our volunteer and wildland firefighters to suppress an unprecedented number of blazes this year,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Dunn. “With that in mind, we ask that the public take all necessary precautions to protect the commonwealth’s lands for the upcoming holiday as we continue to see dry conditions that make fireworks and other fire risks more likely to create wildfires.”

The CDC also notes the importance of protecting your hearing and the benefits of wearing earplugs or earmuffs during fireworks shows.

HAP encourages everyone to have safe, happy, and healthy July 4 holiday. Additional safety tips and information from the Shapiro administration are available online.