Editorial: Practice fireworks safety on the Fourth of July

Dr. F. Dylan Stewart of Johns Hopkins Children Center discusses the dangers of fireworks during a fireworks safety press conference at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center in Marriottsville on Tuesday, June 26.

Amateur fireworks displays around July 4 are not unusual in Carroll County. Because of our close proximity to Pennsylvania, it is easy for Marylanders to get their hands on serious pyrotechnics like M-80s, Roman candles and cherry bombs.

While it is legal to buy these, Maryland law prohibits the usage of illegal fireworks, which include any devices that fly into the air; pieces that create a loud explosion or move across the ground. These devices are banned because of their inherent danger, and you don’t have to look far to find examples of that.


Unfortunately, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, a 17-year-old was taken to Carroll Hospital with burn injuries as a result of using illegal fireworks over the weekend.

While we understand the allure of these devices, the risk seems to outweigh the reward, especially with a number of public fireworks displays in the area.

Mount Airy will, for the sixth straight year, have a fireworks display July 3 at the firefighter’s activities grounds. Gates open at 4 p.m., with live music, face painting and cornhole. Admission is free. Don’t forget to bring a chair or blanket. Food vendors will also be available.

On July 4, of course, Carroll’s largest and most well-known fireworks display will take place at the Farm Museum in Westminster. Live entertainment and food vendors will be available starting at 3 p.m., with fireworks after dusk. Before 5 p.m., the cost is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $10 for families before 5 p.m.; after 5 p.m., parking is available for a $5 donation to the Westminster Kiwanis.

And later this week, the Manchester volunteer fire company’s carnival will have a fireworks display Thursday night, July 5. Admission to the carnival is free.

Legal fireworks in Maryland that can be purchased in places like Walmart or those yellow pop-up stores in shopping center parking lots, include ground-based sparkler devices, gold-labeled sparklers and novelty items like snap pops, but even those items can pose a burn risk.

Sparklers cause the highest number of fireworks related injuries, as they burn incredibly hot at 2,000 degrees. They can easily cause a shirt or other loose article of clothing to catch fire if not careful. Refrain from letting small children handle sparklers and have a bucket of water nearby to dispose of them, as these can stay hot long after they’ve burned out.

And, given the recent hot, dry conditions, be cognizant that grass and brush may be more susceptible to catching fire, and therefore be mindful of any debris from fireworks — legal or otherwise. Have a connected hose or another water source nearby whenever using fireworks of any sort.

If you must use illegal fireworks, be sure to read the instructions carefully, only light one at a time and move a safe distance away quickly once lighting the fuse. If the firework does not go off, do not attempt to re-ignite it. Instead, wait 20 minutes then soak the dud in water before disposing of it.

When disposing of any used fireworks, it’s best to use a metal trash can or some other metal container, rather than plastic, such as an old coffee can.

Or better yet, just go to one of the professional displays and save yourself the trouble. Regardless of how you celebrate, have a safe and happy Fourth of July.