ELMIRA – Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli and County Fire and Emergency Management Director Mark Cicora wish to remind the public to please use extreme caution while using fireworks or tending to an open fire especially in this unusually hot, dry weather.
“Independence Day celebrates the birth of our nation and fireworks are a part of our traditional festivities,” said Santulli “While we encourage our residents to observe the holiday with friends and family members at backyard barbecues and parties, we also ask that you be safe, follow the law, and take the proper precautions. Leave the fireworks displays to the professionals and be mindful when using sparklers or other permitted novelty items.”
Chemung County adopted a local law in February 2015 allowing for the sale and use of a specific category of consumer fireworks known as Sparkling Devices as permitted by New York State Penal Law Section 405 (b).
“Taking precautions and playing it safe are a must on the Fourth of July,” said Cicora. “If you plan to purchase sparklers and novelty devices only do so from a New York State registered retailer and follow the directions located on the packaging. Also, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy or use sparklers in New York State.”
Some other important safety tips are:
• A responsible adult should supervise all activities. Never allow young children to light sparklers.
• All sparklers are for outdoor use only in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.
• Always wear eye protection when using sparklers.
• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
• Never place any part of your body directly over sparklers when lighting them.
• Light sparklers one at a time and then quickly move away.
• Never point or throw sparklers at another person.
• Keep an approved fire extinguisher nearby and a bucket of water or a garden hose handy case of a fire or a mishap.
• Never keep fireworks in your pocket and never light sparklers in a glass or metal container.
• Never relight or handle a malfunctioning “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water before you discard it.
• Douse malfunctioning and spent devices with plenty of water before discarding.
• Keep pets indoors.
“While certain sparklers are legal, all other fireworks remain illegal to sell, possess or use in Chemung County,” added Cicora. “They can be extremely dangerous and can result in serious burns, other injuries, fires and even death if not handled properly.”
Under the New York State Penal Law, any person who possesses, uses, or explodes any prohibited fireworks is guilty of a violation. Violations are punishable by up to fifteen days in jail or a fine of up to $250 for each offense.
The criminal penalties are even more severe for people who offer fireworks for sale, or sell or furnish any fireworks to another person. Selling–or even giving away–fireworks to someone else is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to three months in jail and a fine of up to $500. Offering to sell, selling, or furnishing more than $500 worth of fireworks is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.
“As you gather with family and friends this holiday weekend to celebrate our nation’s independence, the safest alternative to shooting off sparklers is to consider attending a public fireworks display conducted by trained professionals,” added Cicora.