Today marks the first day of summer, which means fireworks season is also ramping up.
Pennsylvania recently changed its fireworks law, and some municipalities in Lancaster County have different rules regarding their use.
Statewide, according to the October 2017 law, consumers can purchase and use “Class C” or “consumer-grade” fireworks that include firecrackers, Roman candles, bottle rockets, and similar fireworks that have no more than 50 milligrams of explosive material.
But “display fireworks” that contain more than 130 milligrams of explosive material — as well as professional-grade aerial shells containing more than 60 grams of pyrotechnic compositions — are still only allowed for those with a permit from the municipality where the display will take place.
Fireworks cannot be ignited or discharged without permission of the property owner. They also cannot be discharged from, within or toward a vehicle or building, according to state law.
Consumers must discharge fireworks more than 150 feet away from occupied structures, whether or not a person is inside at the time.
In response to the state law, Lancaster city passed an ordinance last year making it illegal to set off consumer fireworks on city-owned property, leaving few places that would be both privately owned and 150 feet from occupied structures. Similar ordinances exist in Columbia and Lititz boroughs.
Elizabethtown does not allow fireworks indoors. Ephrata, New Holland, Millersville and Mountville boroughs, as well as Upper Leacock Township, all defer to state law.
Anyone 18 years of age or older can purchase fireworks. Fireworks can be purchased at any licensed facility, though airborne fireworks, including Roman candles and bottle rockets may only be purchased at brick-and-mortar stores.
Violating the state law carries a penalty of up to $100.
Additional information can be found here.
How you can stay safe
At least eight people died of fireworks-related injuries unrelated to their jobs in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fireworks were involved in an estimated 12,900 injuries treated in U.S. hospitals that year.
UPMC Lititz treated two patients for fireworks-related injuries last year, according to Kelly McCall, a hospital spokesperson. WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital also treated a few patients last year, emergency medicine physician Robert Supplee said. Most of the injuries consisted of burns to the victims’ hands and eyes, he said.
McCall and Supplee gave the following safety advice:
- Keep buckets of water, sand and saline nearby if you are setting off fireworks.
- Don’t forget to stop, drop and roll if your clothes catch fire.
- Leave it to the professionals, but if you do use fireworks, make sure they are legal and keep them out of the reach of children.
- Safe alternatives to fireworks include glowsticks, noise makers, bubbles, confetti and silly string.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that airborne fireworks could be purchased at temporary vendors.