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Fireworks and the Fourth of July — it’s as “American as apple pie,” right?

But health and law enforcement officials urge you to leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals and celebrate Independence Day by watching a sanctioned display. (Here’s a list of fireworks displays this week.)

Consumer fireworks — including firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, spinners and aerial devices — have long been illegal in New York State and remain so.

But a new state law that took effect in January allows the sale and use of hand-held and ground-based “sparkling devices” in New York — unless a county has banned them locally. Suffolk County did exactly that in May, finding that “sparkling devices… pose an unacceptable risk to public safety.” 

While many regard sparklers as “harmless” because they don’t explode, they represent “a significant percentage of all injuries…caused by fireworks each year and a majority of all fireworks injuries experienced by children under the age of five,” according to the county’s ban.

There were an estimated 1,200 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers nationwide in 2017, according to a report released last week by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Firecrackers were responsible for an estimated 800 emergency department-treated injuries last year, according to the same report.

All told, fireworks were involved in an estimated 12,900 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments last year and eight non-occupational fireworks-related deaths — including two children, an 11-year-old boy in Kansas and a 4-year-old girl in Wisconsin.

Fifty-three percent of all emergency room visits were for burns, the most common injury to hands, fingers and arms, the report says.

In Suffolk, the sale of sparkling devices is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and 15 days in jail. Using a sparkler is a violation punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Similar bans are in place in Nassau and New York City.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.