Legal fireworks in Ohio: A guide to doing it safely

Bigger booms come with bigger risks.

Safety tips for those setting off fireworks for the first time — CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio-based Phantom Fireworks is expecting a big couple of weeks in this first legal year to set off fireworks for the Fourth of July.

“What I’m seeing trend-wise is people want to get in to the bigger stuff. They got a taste of it. Now that it’s legal, they want to do more. Then we have those newcomers, ‘This is my first time, what do you recommend?,’” said store manager Molly Whitehead.

Previously, Ohioans had to adhere to the “Four S Law”: Snaps, sparklers, snakes and smoke.

This year, you’ll be able to upgrade to repeaters, fountains, roman candles, bottle rockets and single shot tubes.

But with the bigger booms come bigger safety risks.

Whitehead says make sure to have bricks around for your single shot tubes and mortar kits.

“The bricks add safety to keep them from tipping over. If you take the bricks off, it’s a little easy to wobble, especially if you’re doing this on grass. There’s always that risk that as the mortar ball is coming out the tube can tip over,” she said.

That’s something Michael Snider learned the hard way.

“Last year, we initially started off letting them off on a table. One actually jumped up and flipped over,” he said.

With aerial fireworks, Phantom recommends spectators stay at least 150 feet away from the device. For fountains, 75 feet away is the recommended distance. And 75 to 100 feet is a safe distance for bottle rockets, roman candles, and sparklers in buckets full of sand.

And when you’re starting to get into larger explosives, you can fuse multiple fireworks together or add length to your fuse.

“We also have pyro torches here. These are going to be things that you light to give you a straight flame for five minutes so you’re not messing around with a lighter,” Whitehead said.

In case something does get out of hand, have a hose, bucket or water, and a fire extinguisher on hand.

“Prior to setting off any fireworks, you’ll want to dose the launch site, because a lot of people will be doing this in their yard. Then the grass is nice and wet, there’s no dry conditions,” said Whitehead.

Also, put a piece of plywood down so there’s a flat, hard surface, and soak or douse the fireworks when you’re done.

Whitehead says while fireworks usage has gone up in recent years, injuries and accidents have gone down, so make sure sober adults are setting them off, and doing so safely.

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Jen Picciano

Jen Picciano

Jen Picciano is an Emmy award-winning reporter for WOIO-TV and creator of the restaurant and dining segment Cleveland Cooks.