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Officials: Put safety first at Fourth of July festivities


The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

MARIETTA, Ohio — Bottle rockets, firecrackers, sparklers and Roman candles are filling up carts as people gear up for the upcoming holiday but residents should be aware of the laws and dangers of fireworks before lighting up the sky on the Fourth of July.

Mike Carpenter, employee at Eagle Fireworks in Marietta, straightens up the best-seller Diablo firework pack at the store on Friday.
(Photo by Peyton Neely)

In Ohio and West Virginia, it is illegal to light fireworks within state borders. Only smaller products such as party poppers and glow worms can be discharged by unlicensed individuals.

Law enforcement officials stress to citizens to let the licensed professionals put on their firework displays to celebrate Independence Day but there are still helpful tips for those who will to celebrate with fireworks regardless.

“It’s illegal in Ohio so people shouldn’t be letting them off anyways but should still use common sense when using them,” said Marietta Fire Department Capt. Bruce Weckbacher. “Definitely don’t let young kids around the fireworks when you’re lighting them. An adult should be the one using them.”

According to a report by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 33 percent of firework injuries happen on the hands and arms, 28 percent happen on the head, face and ears, and 69 percent of all injuries are burns to the skin.

“I’d advise not to set them off near any kind of structure that could start a bigger fire,” said Weckbacher. “It should be around a flat open space and keep a water hose or bucket of water nearby just in case of an accident.”

Several fireworks displays can be found on Tuesday night, including the annual Beverly community fireworks display presented at Cadet Field at Fort Frye High School beginning at 10 p.m. There will also be fireworks at Parkersburg’s City Park starting at 10 p.m.

Eagle Fireworks Inc. in Marietta has been keeping steady business as residents stock up on sparklers, bang-snaps and fuse lighters. Manager Bobby Hamilton said business has picked up during the week but he expected a lot of sales through the weekend.

“We extend our hours just for the holiday. We will be open Saturday, Sunday and (today) from 8 a.m. until midnight,” he said. “With the Fourth of July being on a Tuesday, I’m really surprised that there are this many people that are purchasing fireworks.”

Hamilton said a best-seller this year has been the Diablo package of fireworks, priced at $199.

“It’s made by Black Cat and it’s been a popular item because of everything included in it. It’s supposed to shoot up to 200 feet in the air,” said Hamilton. “From what I’ve heard in the store, a lot of people have the Monday before off and plan on celebrating that night with friends and family.”

The Washington County Fairgrounds isn’t hosting its annual fireworks show this year, according to the fair board and Hamilton thinks that may be part of the reason so many people have come through the doors of the fireworks store lately.

“It certainly didn’t hurt us because people do want to see fireworks,” he said. “When you think of the Fourth of July, you think of fireworks.”

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