Safety first when handling fireworks

Katherine Ranzenberger
  • Don't drink while setting off fireworks.
  • Fireworks that leave the ground are illegal in Pennsylvania.
  • Make sure you have water to put out any fires that occur.

The Fourth of July is always a blast until someone gets blasted by some fireworks.

That's why local officials and fireworks sellers are making sure people know proper safety protocols and handling for fireworks before the celebrations begin.

"We're very big on safety," said Bill Hunt, manager of Phantom Fireworks in Shrewsbury. "We give customers safety pamphlets when they first walk in, and all the bags for products have safety instructions on them."

The first thing you see when you walk into the 616 Renaissance Drive shop is a long table with all sorts of fireworks safety tips, equipment for fire extinguishing and fire protection. Hunt said the store sells easy-to-use kits for $2 with all the safety essentials.

"It has goggles, gloves, a water bucket and more," he said. "Fireworks are a lot safer than they used to be, but they're still not completely safe."

Hunt has worked for Phantom for 15 years and has heard and seen his fair share of horror stories, he said. Simple actions like not drinking before or while setting off fireworks can make a huge difference in safety.

Takeela Saunders, left, looks on as Ciara Saunders, right, both of Camp Springs, Maryland, shows her daughter Sage, 5, how to safely hold a sparkler at Phantom Fireworks of Shrewsbury in New Freedom, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"A lot of times, the reason people get hurt (is) because they're drunk," Hunt said. "Watching safety videos online can also help. If the firework goes up in the air, you should stand at least 100 feet away from it. Bigger mortars mean you need to be at least 200 feet away."

Light up the skies with fireworks around York County

It's illegal for Pennsylvania residents to buy anything that leaves the ground without their municipalities' permission, according to state law. Hunt said the store will not sell those fireworks to commonwealth residents without the proper paperwork beforehand.

Avoiding windy areas and not pointing the fireworks at others are other rules for safe handling of fireworks. Don't use fireworks inside, either.

Quinton Saunders, of Camp Springs, Maryland, shops at Phantom Fireworks of Shrewsbury in New Freedom, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Hunt said to make sure pets are safely away from fireworks, too, because they can get scared, run away or hurt someone around the area.

"Use common sense, and you'll be fine," he said.

— Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at kranzenberger@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDKatherine.