Americans will celebrate Independence Day with parades, barbecues, and fireworks in their own backyards – except in Illinois and three other states.
Illinois is one of just four states that ban residents from using or purchasing fireworks other than novelty items such as sparklers, small noisemakers and smoke bombs.
Firework users in Illinois can expect hefty penalties if caught. Possession, transportation, or use of illegal fireworks is a class A misdemeanor with fines up to $2,500 or 1 year in prison, although law enforcement often ignores violators unless they really annoy the neighbors.
Massachusetts, Vermont, and Ohio are the only other states that impose severe pyrotechnic restrictions. Ohioans are allowed to purchase fireworks but may not light them off. Massachusetts residents may not use any pyrotechnic device, including sparklers.
Based on data provided by hospitals across Illinois, the state fire marshal’s office reported 148 fireworks-related injuries throughout the state during the four-week period including the 4th of July 2017 (data from 2018 is not yet available), down from 181 in 2016. Causing the most injuries (32) were mortars, followed by “unknown” fireworks, which injured 28 people, then wire/wood core (18), and roman candles and bottle rockets, which accounted for 16 injuries each.
Most injuries affected hands (51) and eyes (34). Head/face injuries accounted for 28 injury reports. Second-degree burns accounted for 49 of the injuries, followed by first-degree burns at 28. There were 16 reports of dismemberment/amputation.
A total of 137 people were hospitalized as a result of fireworks-related injuries.
Sparklers may make for a Facebook worthy Fourth of July photo, but parents should remember to keep an eye on kids during and after they handle the pretty, but dangerous hand-held fireworks.
The fiery sticks can reach up to 2,000°F when ignited, hot enough to cause severe skin burns and catch flammable clothing on fire.
It is recommended keeping a bucket of water nearby to dispose of the sparkler once it goes out instead of tossing it to the ground. The hot temperature can still remain on the stick after the fire goes out. There are also alternatives to the metal sparklers, like bamboo sparklers, which don’t stay hot after they’re burned, decreasing the risk of burn-related injuries.
In 2016, there was an estimated 900 emergency room visits (nation-wide) related to sparklers, where 400 of those were children aged 0-4.