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With 4th of July events canceled due to coronavirus, Maryland officials urge safety when using fireworks at home

The Fourth of July will look a little different this year, with large-scale fireworks displays and celebrations canceled across Maryland because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Annual favorites like fireworks at Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia, the Independence Day parade in Bel Air, fireworks at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster and the Independence Day celebration in Catonsville are just some of the events that have been canceled to stop the spread of COVID-19. Baltimore and Annapolis have also canceled their Fourth of July events.

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Officials, however, are still urging residents to be cautious if they plan to celebrate Independence Day at home.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal held a fireworks safety news conference Thursday at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center in Marriottsville. In addition to a safety briefing, the fire marshal’s bomb squad also demonstrated legal and illegal explosive devices.

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The sale, possession and residential use of ground-based sparklers is prohibited in Maryland, and violators are subject to a fine of up to $1,000. The Office of the State Fire Marshal said illegal fireworks include devices that fly into the air; pieces that create a loud explosion; or Chinese-style lanterns with no control of direction or path.

While fireworks are legal to buy in some neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, it is illegal to purchase fireworks in those states and ignite them in Maryland.

However, there are some legal fireworks products, including handheld sparklers, party poppers, snap pops and ignitable snakes.

For those who are going to be handling legal fireworks this Fourth of July, here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:

  • Only adults should handle fireworks and should supervise all fireworks activity.
  • Refrain from letting small children handle sparklers and have a bucket of water nearby to dispose of them as they can stay hot long after they’ve burned out.
  • Children should never pick up fireworks.
  • Be mindful of any debris from fireworks, especially around grass or brush. Have a connected hose or another water source nearby when using fireworks of any sort.
  • Do not throw fireworks in the air.
  • Be sure to read instructions carefully when using fireworks, 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. Wait 20 minutes, then soak the dud in water before disposing of it.
  • When disposing of any used fireworks, use a metal trash can or other metal container, rather than plastic, such as an old coffee can.

Baltimore Sun Media staff contributed to this story.

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