What You Need To Know About Your 4th of July Celebrations
Fireworks are an integral part of Independence Day celebrations. This year is sure to be much of the same, along with family and friends and good food. Fireworks can be quite dangerous if you are not careful, so the city has put specific limitations on when you can and cannot use them. It is not excessively strict, but the penalty for not following these limitations will be much more costly than it has been before.
The Current Law
Before recent changes, the state law allowed for 30 days of the year for firework usage. This is a vast improvement from pre-2012 when any consumer grade fireworks that left the ground were completely prohibited. Now, the recent updates to state law have allowed for the cities to put their own regulations on firework usage and times. That being said, let’s look at the current days and times that Grand Rapids allows for fireworks usage.
December 31 at 11:00 am until January 1st at 1:00 am.
The Saturday and Sunday immediately before Memorial Day from 11:00 am to 11:45 pm.
June 29 to July 4th from 11:00 am to 11:45 pm.
If July 5th is a Friday or Saturday, then from 11:00 am to 11:45 pm.
The Saturday and Sunday immediately before Labor Day from 11:00 am to 11:45 pm.
These new restrictions have cut the number of days that fireworks are allowed by more than half. Also with these restrictions, comes heftier fines for disobeying them. Each violation of these restrictions carries a maximum $1000 fine. Previously, the fines used to max out at $200. The updates for this law are in large part due to a number of complaints sent to the local and state governments. Scared children and pets, due to the loud nature of fireworks, are reference as primary reasons for the restrictions. The city is not taking away all of your fun. They are just keeping it within reason out of the respect of your neighbors. So if you are planning on celebrating this coming Independence Day, please do so responsibly and follow the local laws.
The Former Law
The previous law, set by the state, stopped cities from banning fireworks within specific days and times. This covered the day of, day before, and day after a federal holiday. The only exception was that restrictions could be placed between 1:00 am and 8:00 am on these days in certain areas. One part of the law that has remained the same is the ability to limit firework use due to weather. In the case of extremely dry weather, the governor, state fire marshal, or head of the department of natural resources may elect to impose firework bans. These bans would also include open firepits and bonfires among other high-risk activities that could spark wildfires. Although there are now less days available to legally launch fireworks, it is still better than before 2013 when any airborne consumer grade firework was illegal.
While you are enjoying your holidays, be sure to keep these safety tips in mind. Each year there are approximately 8 deaths and over 10,000 injuries related to the misuse of fireworks. Be safe and don’t do anything stupid. Follow these basic fireworks safety tips to help minimize the risk of injury.
- Don’t use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Never allow young children to play with fireworks.
- Always have someone supervise activities, espcially when sparklers are in use.
- Retreat to a safe distance, behind cover, as soon as a firework is lighted.
- Never point fireworks in the direction of another persone, animal, or building.
- Do not carry fireworks in your pocket.
- Keep a hose or bucket of water nearby when using fireworks.
- If using mortars, be sure the base of the tubes is mounted to something sturdy that won’t fall over.
- Do not launch fireworks out of your hand that are not intended to be hand-held.
- Do not try to relight a firework that has not gone off. Leave it as is for at least 10 minutes, then put it in water.
- Never Light Fireworks inside or around dry grass.
- Never stand over or put your limbs over a lit firework, even if it has not gone off. Follow #10 Instructions
If you have any doubts about fireworks or do not want to use them, then visit a local fireworks show. These are trained professionals who are experienced in handling fireworks. Also, they are usually better funded and can put on a much better disply than the average back yard fireworks show.