Officials warn public to learn fireworks safety, laws

The City of Manistee fireworks display is set for July 3. The show will begin at dusk at First Street Beach. (David Navadeh/News Advocate)

The City of Manistee fireworks display is set for July 3. The show will begin at dusk at First Street Beach. (David Navadeh/News Advocate)

MANISTEE COUNTY — During the Fourth of July a tradition across the nation prevails, in which families gather to enjoy a meal fresh from the grill and, of course, fireworks.

However, authorities are warning residents to leave the firework displays to the professionals.

Manistee County undersheriff Ken Falk said if anyone decides to use fireworks, as permitted by law, then they must know the local ordinances, state laws, follow safety guidelines and know what to do in case of an emergency.

In the City of Manistee, fireworks are allowed, however an ordinance prohibits certain activity.

An ordinance was passed in 2014 by the City of Manistee that states: “No person shall ignite, discharge or use fireworks in the city between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.”

This does not preclude a person from igniting, discharging or using consumer fireworks within the city

A child waves an American flag on the Fourth of July. (David Navadeh/News Advocate)

A child waves an American flag on the Fourth of July. (David Navadeh/News Advocate)

limits on the day preceding, the day of or the day after a national holiday except between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. on those days.

Consumer-grade fireworks, such as roman candles and bottle rockets, became legal in Michigan on Jan. 1, 2012, after the Fireworks Safety Act passed the previous year. State law says these fireworks should only be ignited from personal property.

Firecrackers, cherry bombs, M80s and similar fireworks remain illegal.

“I suggest (people) get a hold of their city or township officials to find out local ordinances,” said Falk. “Fire danger is a hazard, and another issue with fireworks is when people shoot them off from private property but the debris goes onto another property.

“People should contact 911 with an emergency; burns are common because fireworks are often improperly handled.”

Falk said the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office also enforces the following State of Michigan laws on fireworks:

• Setting off or using fireworks on public property, church property or private property of another without permission is a civil infraction, with a fine up to $500;

• Igniting or using fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance is a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine;

• Smoking within 50 feet of a retail fireworks sales point is a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine; and

• Selling commercial fireworks to a minor is a civil infraction, with a fine up to $500.

During the week, Falk said many reports are filed with the sheriff’s office on noise complaints of neighbors using fireworks after hours. Public property is off limits, and Falk said residents should also be sure to not trespass on private property.

“We usually get reports of people shooting off fireworks at 3 a.m. or in the roadway, which is not permitted,” said Falk. “A lot of people think they can go out to the public beach to light off fireworks, and that’s illegal. Like Portage Point, people like to try and go out there.”

As fireworks can be a safety hazard to the public, Falk said, if used, they should be handled with care. Children should never handle fireworks, and if using sparklers,  should be supervised.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), last year nearly 13,000 individuals were injured by fireworks across the United States.

A U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported an estimated 12,900 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries and eight fireworks-related deaths in 2017. About 67 percent of these incidents happened between June 16 and July 16.

“The Fourth of July and fireworks go hand in hand,” said Nick Lyon, MDHHS director, in a press release. “However, they can be dangerous. We want to make sure residents are celebrating our nation’s independence safely and using caution when handling fireworks.”

Those who use fireworks, as permitted, should also dispose of them properly, said Falk.

“Completely submerge fireworks in a bucket of water. Allow to soak overnight,” he said. “Double-wrap soaked fireworks in plastic wrap or plastic bags, so they do not dry out. Place the wrapped bags in regular household garbage and take to your local solid waste facility.”

A professional fireworks display will be held at dusk on July 3 located at First Street Beach over Lake Michigan. For a less noisy holiday spot, the Tippy Dam Recreation Area in Manistee County offers a firework-free holiday.

The U.S. Forest Service prohibits residents and campers from using fireworks in the Huron-Manistee National Forests at any time. Regulations are strictly enforced.

SAFETY

When using fireworks, follow these MDHHS and Manistee County Sheriff’s Office recommended safety guidelines:

• Make sure you know the ordinances and laws in your area before you use or buy fireworks;

• Never use or craft professional-grade fireworks;

• Always wear safety glasses when lighting off fireworks, as eye injuries are common;

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to melt some metals;

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person or occupied area. Also, light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly; and

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy. Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

 

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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