(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) Independence Day is on Thursday and that means fireworks stands are busy with people stocking up on items to light up the night. But before buying certain types of fireworks that could lead to an encounter with the law, check out the guidelines from the Arlington County Fire Department.
Although ACFD notes that the safest way for residents to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display by a trained professional, it recognizes that many people will purchase their own. To avoid facing prosecution for illegal fireworks, use the following guidelines listed in the county code:
- Fireworks must have a hard-coated or slow burning fuse that measures at least one-and-a-half inches long, with a burning rate of at least four seconds.
- Fireworks that are projectiles or emit flames or sparks in excess of 12 feet are prohibited.
- Residents must be at least 18 years old to purchase fireworks.
- Arlington County uses the same guidelines as Fairfax County, which has posted an extensive list online of approved fireworks.
ACFD also refers residents to the following general safety tips for handling fireworks, compiled by FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration:
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers, considered by many the ideal “safe” firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.
- Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never shoot a firework at or near another person.
- Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
- Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
- Observe local laws.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
- Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.