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Michigan fireworks 2021: What you can and can’t do on the Fourth of July

kid with sparkler
From sparklers to Roman candles to ground spinners, fireworks of all shapes and sizes (and sounds) will light up the Michigan sky July 4. (Shutterstock)

With the COVID-19 pandemic canceling summer festivities in 2020, Michigan residents may not remember what they can and cannot do with fireworks for their Fourth of July celebrations.

Are firecrackers legal in the state? Can I shoot them into my neighbor’s yard at 3 a.m.? What’s the difference between a cone fountain and a glow worm?

Related:

As vaccination rates creep toward President Biden’s 70-percent-by-July-Fourth goal – 60.3 percent of Michigan residents over 16 have been partially vaccinated as of today – and  Michiganders slowly resume normal life, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest state guidelines for fireworks use.

What kind of fireworks can I buy in Michigan? Can anyone buy them?

Anyone age 18 or older can buy fireworks in the state.

If you meet that requirement, you have lots of choices among consumer fireworks, novelty items and low-impact fireworks. Consumer fireworks include Roman candles, bottle rockets, missile-type rockets, aerials, reloadable shell devices, firecrackers, helicopters/aerial spinners and single tube devices. For novelty items, check out sparklers, snaps, poppers and snakes. Low impact fireworks include ground-based or handheld sparklers, sparkling wheel devices, ground sparkling devices and smoke devices.

Publicly-displayed fireworks shows organized by professionals, the type of shows many communities offer around Independence Day, are also legal.

Where can I buy fireworks in Michigan?

From now through the Fourth, you probably can’t swing a sparkler without hitting someone selling fireworks. There are pop-up fireworks stores in every corner of the state.

Those shops should all have certificates confirming they are licensed to sell fireworks. It is illegal to sell consumer fireworks unless an individual has obtained a certification from Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Individuals can apply for certificates to sell fireworks in both permanent and temporary structures.

Look for those certificates if you want to make sure you’re buying from a reputable dealer who is only selling fireworks legal in the state.

What about buying fireworks in Ohio or Indiana?

Anyone who’s driven into Indiana from Michigan knows there are enormous fireworks stores just across the state line. That’s because in years past, Indiana had looser fireworks regulations. Michiganders would make pilgrimages to the Hoosier border towns of Fremont along I-69 or Middlebury along U.S. 131  to fill their trunks with explosive contraband.

But fireworks laws in Michigan are fairly similar to those in Indiana, so there’s less need to make a trip to get the good stuff.

And Ohio? You can buy fireworks in Ohio comparable to what you can get here, but you have to sign a document promising not to set them off until you leave the Buckeye State.

When can I set my fireworks off?

It may depend on where you live. In December 2018, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill that afforded local governments the right to restrict fireworks use in their communities via ordinances. The bill also decreased the number of days in a year residents could ignite fireworks unrestricted from 30 to 12 days. However, state law still prohibits local governments from restricting fireworks use on the following days after 11 a.m.:

  • Dec. 31 until Jan. 1 at 1 a.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day until 11:45 p.m.
  • June 29 through July 4 until 11:45 p.m. each day
  • July 5, if it falls on a Friday or Saturday, until 11:45 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday before Labor Day until 11:45 p.m.

Violations of local ordinances may result in a fine of $1,000 per offense.

Where can I light my fireworks?

On your own private property. It is illegal to ignite fireworks from public property, including streets and sidewalks, from school or church property, or from a friend’s property, unless given their express permission. 

Violations of this law may result in a fine of up to $500.

How can I keep my kids safe around fireworks?

In 2019, there were about 10,000 injuries and 12 deaths in the United States connected to fireworks.

Adults should always supervise firework use, including sparklers. Though small, they can hit a whopping 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing burns to skin, clothing damage and grass fires. Over 50 percent of sparkler-related injuries occur in children under 14 nationwide. 

It’s always smart to have a bucket of water or hose handy in case things get out of control.

It’s very dry in northern Michigan. Does that raise concerns about fireworks?

In an average year, there are more fires on the Fourth of July than any other day in the year, with a third of those fires caused by fireworks.

Much of Michigan is dry this spring, which is a particular worry in heavily wooded areas in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.

Fireworks can be temporarily banned on a county basis under certain weather conditions. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the state fire marshal and the head of the Department of Natural Resources all have the authority to ban fireworks use due to dry conditions.

What about parties and fireworks?

State law makes it illegal to ignite fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Violations of this law may result in a $1,000 fine. 

In other words, don’t drink and sparkle.

My dog goes nuts when my neighbors set off fireworks. What can I do?

First, make sure your dog can’t run away — some get frantic at the sound and flashing light. Other tips from the American Kennel Club include comforting your dog during the barrage, taking them for a long walk before the firecrackers come out and playing white noise such as a fan.

How can I enjoy at-home fireworks while respecting neighbors who are sensitive to them?

Some people experience sensitivity to fireworks, including veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s important to respect your neighbors while enjoying summer festivities. 

“If you choose to use fireworks, consider doing so at a planned, reasonable, and known time interval, and communicating that to those around you, so your celebration doesn’t become the unintentional “trigger” for someone else,” said Ryan Engle, partnership coordinator at the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. “Or, consider starting a new tradition to celebrate independence and the purpose of the holiday – one many men and women fought and sacrificed for.” 

General safety tips

Matthew Erickson, a public information officer with LARA, provided Bridge Michigan with fireworks safety tips he considers essential for protecting the “lives and property” of Michiganders this summer.

ALWAYS:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Have an adult supervise fireworks activities, including sparklers.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then immediately back away to a safe distance.
  • Ensure people and pets are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Light fireworks outdoors on a driveway or other paved surface at least 25 feet away from houses and flammable materials such as dry grass or mulch.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishaps.
  • Douse spent fireworks in a bucket of water before discarding them in a trash can.

NEVER:

  • Buy fireworks packaged in brown paper or use unlabeled fireworks – they are for professional use only. 
  • Experiment with or make your own fireworks.
  • Allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Try to re-light “duds” or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. (Rather, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.)
  • Point or throw fireworks at other people.
  • Carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

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