Fireworks complaints way down in Dayton this year

Complaints about people setting off fireworks appear to down in the area, including a 71 percent drop in the city of Dayton compared to this time last year, and retailers are reporting lower sales.

Police and other officials cited the return of community fireworks events as a likely reason for the drop in complaints.

According to Dayton police, there were 529 calls for service concerning fireworks from Jan. 1 through June 27, 2020. There were 153 calls for service concerning fireworks through June 27, police said, with no fireworks-related injury calls reported.

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Police Maj. Joe Wiesman of the East Patrol Operations Division said the numbers might be down because cities are having Fourth of July events again this year, including fireworks.

“The thought is that since COVID shut these events down last year, many took it upon themselves to set off their own fireworks, which is both dangerous and illegal,” Wiesman said.

Dayton police will have extra crews working to address fireworks issues through the holiday.

Kettering police Officer Tyler Johnson agreed with Wiesman’s theory, as the number of fireworks complaints are also down there compared to last year.

“It still happens and we’ve received a few reports this year,” Johnson said. “It was really bad last year because fireworks shows were cancelled and with everyone home because of COVID-19, people wanted to shoot off their own fireworks.”

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Under Ohio’s current fireworks laws, popular devices such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and firecrackers can be legally purchased in Ohio but must be transported out of state within 48 hours. Only licensed exhibitors are permitted to discharge these devices in the state.

“Discharging consumer-grade fireworks is still illegal in Ohio and, until that changes, we encourage people to only attend licensed shows in their communities,” said Ken Klouda, chief of the State Fire Marshal’s Fire Prevention Bureau. “Everyone deserves to celebrate the July 4th holiday, but we want people to do it safely and legally.”

Most first-time violations of Ohio’s fireworks laws are first-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. Violations include failing to transport fireworks out of state within the 48-hour time period and discharging those fireworks.

Some fireworks retailers in the region said they haven’t seen the long lines of people wanting to buy fireworks this year that they saw last year, saying they have plenty of stock to sell right now.

“Last year, we had people standing in line for two hours or more and sales were off the charts,” said Bob Miller, manager of Prism Fireworks in Jeffersonville. “It was crazy busy and we hadn’t seen that in 10 years.”

Miller said with fireworks shows cancelled last year, people wanted to shoot off their own displays. However, this year many fireworks retailers are experiencing some delays receiving products from China due to shipping issues.

At Westfall’s Fireworks in Union City, Indiana, Manager Bob Westfall said business is down a little compared to last year.

“Buying is being spread out but every year is different,” he said. “It will pick up toward the end of the week.”

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Last year a lot of people wanted to get out, he said, and do something for the Fourth of July. Westfall said there are some shortages “here and there” at some places due to the shipping delays.

In 2020, there was a large increase, 50% in people being injured or killed by fireworks-related incidents across the nation than in 2019, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A recent CPSC report said that was the result of many cancelled fireworks shows and the increase of people using fireworks.

“These tragic deaths and injuries are reminders of just how dangerous fireworks can be,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler. “Consumers should enjoy professional fireworks displays from a distance, and be extra vigilant when using consumer-type fireworks.”

According to the CPSC report:

  • At least 18 people nationwide died from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 12 reported for the previous year.
  • About 15,600 people nationwide were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2020. There were about 10,000 ER-treated fireworks injuries in the U.S. in 2019.

The latest report also indicated:

  • Of the 18 deaths, 44% of the victims had used alcohol or drugs prior to the incident.
  • Most fireworks-related injuries, about 66%, occurred in the month surrounding the July 4th holiday.
  • During that one-month period, severe injuries related to fireworks increased in 2020. More consumers were admitted to the hospital, or were transferred to another hospital for treatment, due to severe fireworks injuries in 2020 (21 percent) versus 2019 (12 percent).
  • Young adults ages 20-24 saw the biggest spike in visits to the hospital emergency room for fireworks-related injuries, compared to any age group last year, 17 injuries per 100,000 people in 2020 versus 2.8 per 100,000 people in 2019.
  • Firecrackers were the biggest source of ER-treated fireworks injuries, 1,600, followed by sparklers, 900.
  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers, at 30%. The head, face and ears were the second most injured body parts, at 22%. Eye injuries were third at 15%.
  • Burns were the most common fireworks-related, emergency room-treated injury, at 44 percent.


Tips to Celebrate Safely

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from the fireworks device quickly.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water, and throw them away.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, to prevent a trash fire, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase and set off fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • For more fireworks safety tips, visit www.cpsc.gov.

SOURCE: U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION

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