If you're planning on participating in the upcoming patriotic festivities, Better Business Bureau® Serving Eastern Oklahoma hopes you have a blast but wants to make sure you don’t get burned.
Fireworks are a beautiful and fun part of the holiday, but they can also be dangerous and, possibly, illegal. In Tulsa, it is illegal to purchase, possess or use fireworks within city limits. You could face a $220 penalty or be booked to court if caught with fireworks.
“Fireworks can be pricey. It would be a shame to spend all that money on a product that doesn’t work, isn’t safe or is illegal,” said Amie Mitchell, President and CEO. “We encourage all consumers to do their research before buying and to celebrate responsibly. Purchasing bad fireworks or using them irresponsibly could end up costing you much more than you intended.”
According to The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) “fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires.” BBB® is sharing these five tips for celebrating responsibly:
- Know your city and state laws. While popping the pyrotechnics is illegal in Tulsa, the law does not apply to all towns. Some cities require you to obtain a permit (ex. Broken Arrow) before popping fireworks others do not (ex. Muskogee). Across the state, it is illegal to sale or use skyrockets, cherry bombs, and M-80's. It is also unlawful to ignite fireworks near churches, hospitals, schools, and unharvested crops. For more information on whether or not your city allows fireworks, we suggest you contact your local city hall.
- Be aware of conditions. Legal or not, it’s important to be aware of the weather & environmental conditions before popping fireworks. Lighting pyrotechnics in high winds and dry conditions could cause a fire and lead to property damage. We suggest you watch your preferred local weather coverage or check the Oklahoma Forestry Services website to be aware of any fire danger. You should also keep a water hose, a bucket of water or fire extinguisher on hand in case of an accident.
- Find a trustworthy seller. Firework sales are seasonal and, therefore, are typically sold from temporary locations and roadside stands. We still encourage consumers to check the company’s BBB Review before purchasing. A trustworthy seller should be familiar with their products and be able to share what each one does. They should also offer proof of purchase. Avoid buying items that do not show the manufacturer’s information or appear to have been opened previously.
- Use fireworks responsibly. Only use fireworks as intended. Never shoot fireworks indoors, aim them at people, alter, combine, or relight duds. Be sure to read the caution label before igniting as this will help you know what to expect and recognize when the product is malfunctioning. To be safe, soak spent fireworks in water before disposing of them and pour water over the area where you were lighting them to prevent any fire.
- Keep small children & pets in mind. Last year, U.S. hospital emergency departments treated 11,100 firework related injuries according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Annual Fireworks Report. Children under the age of 15 accounted for 31 percent of those injuries.
- Adults should always supervise children when lighting fireworks.
- Do not hold children while lighting fireworks, not even sparklers. While they may seem harmless, sparklers are associated with at least 900 of the treated injuries.
For humans, fireworks are exciting, but for pets, they can be loud and confusing. Pet rescue organizations are typically very busy in the days following the holiday as many pets escape their yards to get away from the scary sounds.
- Avoid bringing them to Independence Day festivities.
- If possible, bring them indoors into a quiet area.
- Be prepared for the worst. Keep an up to date photo of your pet and make sure they are wearing a collar and tag with relevant contact information.
- Check the ASPCA website for more Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips.
There will be numerous patriotic displays across the state for the public to enjoy if you would rather leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals. Click any of the following links to see which festivals or fireworks displays are near you: