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Michigan fireworks 2022: What you can (and can’t) do over the Fourth

kid with sparkler
Fireworks both big and small are set to illuminate the sky on July 4th in Michigan. (Shutterstock)

People can do stupid things over Independence Day. They wear tank tops on pontoons without sunscreen. They eat their cousin’s potato salad that’s been sitting in the sun at a picnic table for six hours.

And they injure themselves or others with fireworks.

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In the U.S. in 2020, the most recent data available, there was a 50 percent uptick in fireworks-related deaths and injuries compared to 2019, according to a report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Across the country, there were 18 fireworks-related deaths and about 15,600 people made trips to the hospital to deal with wounds caused by fireworks in 2020.

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Fireworks safety can be confusing, and the rules for when and where you can shoot off bottle rockets vary by community. Here’s what you need to know in Michigan: 

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

Adults 18 years or older are allowed to purchase fireworks in Michigan. 

There are a variety of choices among consumer fireworks, novelty items and low-impact fireworks. For consumer fireworks, the choices are: Roman candles, bottle rockets, missile-type rockets, aerials, reloadable shell devices, firecrackers, helicopters/aerial spinners and single tube devices. If this is not your style, novelty items include sparklers, snaps, poppers and snakes. Lastly, low-impact fireworks available on the market are: ground-based or handheld sparklers, sparkling wheel devices, ground sparkling devices and smoke devices.

Currently, fireworks set off in a public display, as usually organized by professionals in numerous communities specifically on Independence Day, are legal in Michigan. 

How do I know if I’m buying fireworks that are legal in Michigan?

Stores selling fireworks are lighting up all across the state and one is likely near you. 

You should look for a certificate from Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs posted prominently at the shop to be assured you are buying legal fireworks.

When can I set my fireworks off?

You can light your fireworks anywhere in the state from June 29 through July 4, until 11:45 p.m. On those dates, the state prevents local governments from banning fireworks use after 11 a.m.

On other days, whether you can pop fireworks might depend on what community you live in. The Michigan Legislature passed a law in 2018 granting local governments the ability to dictate the use of fireworks in their communities through local ordinances. The bill further shrunk the amount of days each year that residents could ignite fireworks freely from 30 to 12 days. 

A violation of a local ordinance could result in a fine of $1,000 per offense.

Where can I light my fireworks?

It is only legal to set off fireworks on your own private property. It’s illegal to light up fireworks on public property, which includes streets and sidewalks, schools, churches or another person’s property without explicit permission. 

If someone is found in violation of this law, they can face a fine of up to $500. 

How can I keep my kids safe around fireworks?

Adults should keep a close eye on children if they use fireworks, specifically sparklers. While sparklers are a small toy to use, they can reach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt some metals. They can quickly start grass fires or burn clothes.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers alone account for more than 25 percent of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. For Children under 5, sparklers account for nearly half of fireworks injuries.

To be ready to deal with any potential emergencies, State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer suggests keeping a bucket of water or hose around to deal with any issues that may arise as a result of lighting fireworks. 

Is it a myth that fireworks cause a lot of fires?

Each year, half of the fires on the Fourth of July are a result of fireworks. Parts of Michigan, particularly in the north, are often dry around the holiday, sparking concern that a rocket’s red glare could turn into a forest fire.  

If there’s a high danger of fire, fireworks can be temporarily banned on a county-by-county basis, though there are no bans in place as of June 15. The governor, the state fire marshal and the head of the Department of Natural Resources all have the power to ban fireworks if conditions are too dry. 

Aside from dealing with potential dryness, another cause for concern comes from cleanup. According to Sehlmeyer, a common cause of fires on the Fourth of July comes from thrown away packaging. When throwing away remains of a box or firework packaging, it is best to water it down as much as possible before throwing it into the trash to prevent a smoldering sparkler from igniting trash. 

What about parties and fireworks?

Drinking and fireworks would seem to go together like charcoal grills and burned hot dogs. But be warned: It is illegal in Michigan to light fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Violators could face a fine of $1,000. 

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

You may get a thrill from fireworks displays, but your canine friends often go berserk at the flash of light or sudden sound. Ensure they can’t run away while also making sure you are comforting them. Take them for a walk before the fireworks begin and turn on white noise in the house during fireworks. 

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

Veterans and those with post-traumatic stress disorder can often be especially sensitive to fireworks. Keeping this in mind while popping fireworks in the backyard and being respectful of sensitivities revolving around fireworks will ensure the fun summer festivities remain alive and well. 

According to Julie Cortright, a healthcare analyst at Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, it is best for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to ask their neighbors if they will be having a firework show and make them aware of their PTSD so they are not caught off-guard. Other ways for those with PTSD to deal with fireworks is to prepare a self-care toolkit, use an app to assist in managing their anxiety, panic or PTSD, or consider going to a fireworks-free Fourth of July event. 

In 2021, Michigan’s Licensing and Regulatory Affairs department provided the following list of fireworks do’s and don’ts:

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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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