A parenting perspective on the latest headlines
Jun 20, 2012
Michigan's New Fireworks Law: Keeping Your Family Safe
Looser rules have local fire departments worried about the summer holidays. Here's what you should know – and how to ensure safety for your kids.
No more traveling to Ohio for those consumer-grade fireworks.
On Jan. 1, Michigan enacted a new firework law, allowing state residents to purchase and shoot off bigger fireworks, year-round.
Now, with firework season right around the corner, the more-lax law has sprung up in the news – as this summer marks Michigan's first summer under the new legislature.
And the potential dangers of the new regulations are raising concerns, among both southeast Michigan families and public safety departments.
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know about the law, as well as safety precautions to take with fireworks around your family this Independence Day.
About the new fireworks law
The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act – or Public Act 256 of 2011 – has altered the rules on what size fireworks Michiganders can buy, and also when they can shoot them off.
Consumer-grade fireworks are now legal for purchase from state-authorized retailers, and must meet Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, the law notes. This genre includes Roman candles, bottle rockets, aerials and missile-type rockets, according to a state press release (download a PDF of the full list of legal fireworks in Michigan here).
Michigan has put rules in place to regulate the sale of consumer fireworks, though.
Residents must be at least 18 years old to buy the fireworks, the state release notes, and retailers must apply for certification to sell the fireworks – which can't be shot off on school grounds or public property. Fireworks also cannot be used on private property without permission from the property owner.
There are punishments in place for people who cause fire or injury with fireworks of any kind, as well as retailers who sell fireworks without certification from the state, the state adds.
The new law also prevents local governments from setting ordinances on certain days, meaning residents can shoot off fireworks more days of the year.
Local governments can "enact an ordinance regulating the ignition, discharge and use of consumer fireworks," the law notes. But, it says, that ordinance can't affect fireworks "on the day preceding, the day of, or the day after a national holiday."
Safety tips for shooting off fireworks
So how does this law affect your family, and how can you ensure you and the kids enjoy a safe Independence Day?
Shelby Township fire marshal Edward Vojtush recommends that kids under the age of 12 not be permitted to use fireworks – even sparklers – without adult supervision.
Vojtush does express concerns regarding the new firework law.
"I can't imagine us having less injuries or fires as we had in years past," he says. "Obviously, from (the fire department's) point of view, if you want to enjoy fireworks, go to a professional display."
Vojtush recommends that those who do decide to light off their own consumer-grade fireworks do so in "an open area away from homes, buildings and spectators."
The fire marshal's bottom line: "Use common sense, stay safe and be mindful of other people's property."
But wait! Before you go gung-ho, the state recommends you keep these things in mind, too:
- Stand far away and back off after lighting.
- Follow the manufacturer's directions, and only buy fireworks from authorized retailers.
- Do not get risky: Don't make your own fireworks, point or throw them at people, or carry them in your pockets.
- Keep a bucket of water or hose on hand in case of a fire. Then, when the fireworks stop burning, dunk them in the water bucket or spray with a hose.
- Never try to relight a firework that didn't ignite the first time, or reuse duds. Wait 15-20 minutes, and then put them in the water bucket or spray with the hose.