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Thinking In Print: Safety first when it comes to fireworks

Late last year, House Bill 172 was passed in Ohio, allowing the state’s residents to purchase and set off consumer-grade fireworks around specific holidays. The bill will go into effect July 1, 2022. This changes Ohio’s previous stance on fireworks that they could be purchased in-state but only launched outside of state borders. 

Given the danger fireworks can cause if misused, Ohio should implement mandatory safety courses so potential buyers can exercise caution when shooting off the explosives.

Exhibitors of fireworks are required to have a permit to buy high-grade fireworks that are off-limits to the public, but consumer-grade fireworks can be purchased by anyone over 18. Despite being available over the counter, consumer-grade fireworks are still classified as “dangerous substances” under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and are considered more hazardous than military explosives. With 18 people dying due to firework injuries in 2020 and accidents causing severe burns and blindness, it is important for people to understand the risks involved with a personal firework display and how to avoid accidents.

Fireworks may come with instructions on how to operate them safely, but skimming through a manual will not teach you the little-known tidbits a safety course would provide. People who use hand sanitizer to ward off COVID-19 will get a nasty surprise when they light their firework and remember, too late, that hand sanitizer is highly flammable

House Bill 172 attempts to protect Ohioans by prohibiting the use of fireworks while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, as alcohol and fireworks are a dangerous combination. However, similar to drinking while driving, many people will not take this law seriously, especially during a holiday when people are celebrating with family and friends. 

Lighting fireworks requires a sober mind to know when to back away after lighting the fuse and where to aim the firework. If someone is under the influence and doesn’t pull their hand away in time, they could lose said hand when the explosive goes off. If people who plan to handle fireworks are required to take a course that shows examples of how catastrophic fireworks and alcohol can be, people will be aware of the risks and might be more prone to obey the law.

Fireworks are a great way to celebrate, but they are not harmless toys. The influx of people who will soon be able to legally shoot fireworks off should be trained to handle them safely. This will make people aware of the risks and how to be safe when entertaining their guests during the holidays. Not doing so could result in death, permanent injury or broken windows when a firework placed on uneven ground ends up in the neighbor’s living room. 

If you intend to set off fireworks after the bill goes into effect, be sure to check out Ohio’s free course on firework etiquette to keep you and your audience safe. 

Charlene Pepiot is a senior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her, cp872117@ohio.edu.



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