Independence Day

Here's What The Law Says About Lighting (Or Even Carrying) Fireworks In The Park

You have to be careful when you’re playing with fire.

by Kate Miller and Lindsay E. Mack
Originally Published: 

The Fourth of July is just around the corner and that means people across the country are trying to lock down their Independence Day plans. If you're hoping to spend the day visiting your local park — sparking the grill and sparklers alike — you just might be wondering if you can light fireworks in a public park, because you've already stocked up on all those Roman candles, bottle rockets, and fountains. Plus it just wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without a fun barbecue and pyrotechnics.

Can I light fireworks in a public park?

“Most state laws prohibit use of consumer fireworks at public parks,” Julie L. Heckman, Executive Director of the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), tells Romper in an email. “If planning to use fireworks at a public park, make certain to check for local restrictions.” Laws vary from state to state and from park to park. However, as a general rule of thumb, most states prohibit the use of fireworks in public parks to prevent injuries as well as forest fires. To find out what your state's firework laws are, consult the American Pyrotechnic Association's state directory, or call your local city hall. In 2022, consumer fireworks will be allowed in various degrees in 47 states plus the District of Columbia, according to the APA. Still, while consumer and novelty fireworks might be legal in a state, that doesn't mean they can be used in the state's parks.

For example, in Wisconsin, cylinder fountains, cone fountains, sparklers, and small smoke devices are legal, according to the APA. However, setting off fireworks is prohibited in “state parks and forests as well as state-owned public hunting and fishing properties,” and comes with a $200 fine, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website. Check your own state’s fireworks regulations before purchasing any bottle rockets or Roman candles this year.

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Are fireworks allowed in national state parks?

One place that fireworks are absolutely off-limits is in our National Park System. You'll be fined not only if you set off a firework, but also if you so much as have one with you inside a park. Using or even possessing fireworks in a National Parks Service site is prohibited, according to the National Parks Service website, so leave the sparklers at home.

Fireworks damage

When you look at the number of fires caused by fireworks every year, it's no wonder that states crack down on people using them in public spaces. An estimated 10,300 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the study period between June 21, 2020 through July 21, 2020 according to a report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. And of the 10,300 injuries, 71% happened to males, and 29% happened to females, with adults aged 25 to 44 years of age experiencing about 35% of the estimated injuries, per the report.

Fireworks on the Fourth Of July: What to know

If you want to shoot fireworks, then stay close to home. “It’s best to use consumer fireworks in your own backyard or on your driveway or cul-de-sac where you have full control of the situation and a source of water nearby,” as Heckman explained.

Perhaps it's best to leave the pyrotechnics to the experts. Fortunately, there are some incredible firework displays in cities across the country, with major shows in Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, San Diego, and more. Look for professional fireworks displays near your home as well. Even if you can't travel to see the dazzling light shows in person, many of these displays are nationally televised.

You and your family still have many options to enjoy gorgeous fireworks displays on the Fourth of July, all while keeping yourselves, as well as your local parks, safe from burns.

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