On May 9, the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians and other members of the Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition sent a joint letter to members of the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee opposing House Bill (HB) 226, the latest attempt in Ohio to move toward legalization of fireworks.
This legislation establishes a study group comprised of legislators with no requirement that the General Assembly consider further statutory changes. Without future legislative action, the bill would allow consumers to discharge 1.4g fireworks beginning in 2020; these consumer grade fireworks include bottle rockets, novelty missiles, roman candles, and other explosive projectile devices. There are no restrictions on the type of devices that can be discharged or the times of year that fireworks could be purchased or discharged. The coalition is not comfortable placing faith in a study committee process so long as the default position of the bill is full legalization of consumer fireworks.
As more and more states relax regulations on fireworks, fireworks injuries grow. Since 2008, five states have legalized the discharge of consumer grade fireworks. During that same period of time, serious injuries increased by 60% from 2.3 injuries per 100,000 population in 2008 to 3.4 injuries per 100,000 population in 2015. Further, a 2016 research project presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting last year found that emergency physicians saw an increase in both the number of fireworks related injuries among children and the severity of those injuries.
- Last year an estimated 11,100 people nationwide were treated in an emergency room for a fireworks-related injury—there were four fatalities.
- Of those injuries, nearly 50% were to individuals who are bystanders and not actively engaged in the discharge of fireworks.
- Fireworks injuries have increased from 8,600 to 11,100 between 2010 and 2016, which is a 30% increase.
- Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 31% of fireworks injuries.
- Of the 44 states that allow consumers to discharge 1.4g fireworks, 23 allow for discharge ONLY around the Fourth of July and/or New Year’s. Many also restrict aerial and rocket-propelled fireworks from being used and only allow for ground-based, 1.4g fireworks to be discharged. Other states require permits for consumer discharge and place caps on the amount of fireworks that may be purchased or stored.