GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Fireworks are a traditional way to celebrate the July 4th weekend. Some people may go to professional displays, while others set their own off at home. We all know those loud and bright festivities start several days before July 4th!

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control are urging New Yorkers to take extra caution and handle sparkling devices responsibly when celebrating Independence Day this upcoming holiday weekend.

“Summertime, and especially the Fourth of July, are times of celebration and togetherness, but when fireworks and sparkling devices are added to the party, it can lead to very serious injuries for those involved,” New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said. “The best way to stay safe this Fourth of July is to leave the fireworks to the professionals, but if you plan on using sparkling devices, please make sure you do so as safely as possible.”

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks in 2020. Two-thirds of these estimated injuries took place around the July 4th holiday.

According to the CPSC report, the bulk of injuries sustained by people using fireworks and sparkling devices are ages 25-44 (35%) and ages 15-24 (25%). The top injuries reported are hands and fingers (30%), head, face and ears (22%), and eye injuries (15%).

“We encourage New Yorkers to safely celebrate this week and be cautious around any devices emitting fire or live sparks,” said State Fire Administrator James B. Cable. “Only use legally purchased sparkling devices and follow any instructions on the packaging to ensure safe usage to protect you and those you’re celebrating with.”

New York State only allows the sale and use of a specific category of consumer fireworks known as sparkling devices. Legal ground-based or handheld sparking devices produce a shower of colored sparks or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noise and smoke. The devices do not launch into the air. These devices are currently legal in all counties of the state except for Albany, Bronx, Columbia, Kings, Nassau, the City of New York, Queens, Richmond, Orange (prohibited in the cities of Middletown and Newburgh only), Schenectady, Suffolk and Westchester.

All other types of consumer fireworks including firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, spinners and aerial devices, remain illegal statewide.

Sellers, manufacturers, and distributors of sparkling devices must apply for a certificate of registration from the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, pay an annual fee and follow other rules and conditions. A list of registered sparkling device vendors appears here.

Sales of sparkling devices by certified permanent and specialty retailers can only occur from June 1 to July 5 and December 26 to January 1. Sales of sparkling devices by certified temporary stands or tents can only occur from June 20 to July 5 and December 26 to January 1.

If sparkling devices are legal to purchase in your county, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control is encouraging New Yorkers to follow these safety tips:

  • Purchase sparkling devices and novelty devices from New York State registered retailers only
  • Always follow the directions located on the packaging
  • Never allow children to handle sparkling devices, this includes sparklers (It is illegal for anyone under 18 years old to use sparking devices)
  • All sparkling devices are for outdoor use only, a minimum of 10’ away from a building or structure. Never use indoors!
  • Always wear eye protection and closed toed shoes when using sparkling devices
  • Never light more than one sparkling device at a time
  • Never point a sparkling device tube towards anyone or any part of your body
  • Keep sparkling and novelty devices in a secure, dry and safe location when not in use
  • Never use sparkling devices when under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Always keep an approved fire extinguisher nearby when using sparkling devices
  • Douse malfunctioning and spent devices with water for a minimum of 15 minutes before discarding to prevent a fire
  • Use on a non-combustible surface, such as asphalt, concrete or cement, staying away from dry brush and grass
  • Do not use in a designated red flag area, this is designated by the Department of Environmental Conservation

For more information on the sale and use of sparkling devices in New York State, visit the Office of Fire Prevention and Control website.