Fireworks present a serious risk of causing accidental fires, injuring people, or even causing death. Because of the extreme risks that fireworks pose, there are legal restrictions placed on the sale, possession, and use of fireworks. Keep in mind that all types of fireworks can be dangerous, including those types which are considered to be permissible in some jurisdictions. Sparklers, which many people incorrectly assume to be a completely safe item, burn at temperatures above 1,000° Fahrenheit, which can easily cause burn injuries and result in accidental fires.
Colorado law restricts the types of fireworks that are allowed to be used. There are also laws in place that regulate the use of legal fireworks. These laws can vary from one town to another, so be sure to check with your local law enforcement or other applicable city or county government agencies. Legal fireworks include items such as sparklers, fountains, smoke balls, items with crackle and strobe effects, wheels and spinners, and various novelty items. These types of fireworks are allowed to be sold only by vendors who maintain fire district permits. State law also includes age restrictions for who is allowed to possess or use legal fireworks. Fireworks are not to be possessed or used by children under the age of 16 without direct adult supervision.
Illegal fireworks are those which explode and/or leave the ground, such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman Candles, aerials, mortars, missiles, and other similar items. These items are not legal for either sale or use within the State of Colorado. An easy way to know if you’re buying legal or illegal fireworks is this: If you have to drive outside the state to buy them, there is a pretty good chance that they are illegal here. The only people legally allowed to use these types of fireworks are licensed commercial pyrotechnicians, and they can only be used during authorized and permitted displays.
Recent statistics reveal that 8,000 to 12,000 people are treated in hospitals each year in the U.S. for fireworks-related injuries. About half of these injuries occur to children under the age of 15. Nearly 40% of all fireworks-related injuries are caused by legal fireworks, such as sparklers, fountains, and novelty items. Illegal fireworks can be even more dangerous and account for over 60% of fireworks-related injuries each year.
To avoid the risks of fire and injury that are associated with the use of legal fireworks, we encourage everyone to enjoy the local fireworks displays that are sponsored and permitted through municipal government. If you choose to purchase and use legal fireworks, be sure to follow these safety precautions:
- Only purchase and use fireworks that are legal in your area.
- Read the labels for proper use and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Do not allow children to handle fireworks without direct adult supervision.
- Only use fireworks in a safe area that is clear of combustible materials.
- Have a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby at all times.
- Ensure that all spectators are a safe distance away from fireworks.
- Be courteous and sensitive to the effects of the use of fireworks to your neighbors and pets.
- For more information about fireworks safety, click here to read the NFPA Fireworks Safety Tips.