July 4 and Fireworks
While legal fireworks and sparklers are a popular part of July 4th celebrations, they are a danger to users, pets, and the environment. In many areas of Virginia, fireworks could become a cause of wildfires.
Fireworks that have finished burning are still extremely hot, and they can smolder in dry grass or leaves before a fire ignites. One spark is all it would take for a wildfire to start.
Keep a bucket of water; wet towel, and a fully-charged garden hose nearby. Children and pets should also be kept a safe distance away from igniting and spent fireworks.
Many types of fireworks (including firecrackers, sparklers, bottle rockets, skyrockets, torpedoes and other fireworks that explode, travel laterally, rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air) are illegal in Virginia unless you are a licensed contractor. A good alternative to personal fireworks are the community displays. Check your local news source for information on times and locations, or go online.
- Smokey Bear July 4th Activity and Coloring Sheets (English; PDF format)
- July 4th Mini poster and Safety poster (English; PDF format)
- Happy Independence Day Poster in Color or Black and White (English; PDF format)
Fireworks - Safety Tips
Contact your local county/city administration to be advised if fireworks have been banned or restricted, and a list of public displays available to attend. Follow these precautions when using fireworks:
- Purchase only legal fireworks available at approved stands. Never make your own fireworks, and be on the lookout for teens experimenting with home made fireworks.
- Know the laws for your area.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby in which to place all used fireworks. Have a water hose or fire extinguisher nearby to put out stray sparks.
- Clear a level area away from things that can burn.
- When lighting fireworks - Set family boundaries. Have a designated adult light all fireworks. Do not allow young children to light fireworks. Use eye protection, wear safety goggles. Light one at a time, move away quickly and keep at a safe distance until the display is finished. Use fireworks only outdoors and away from anything that can burn. To prevent injuries, never have any part of their body over a firework. Never throw fireworks and never hold fireworks in your hand.
- Always read and follow the directions on the label. Never use fireworks indoors.
- Light only one firework at a time—and never re-light a “dud” firework
- Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers—and don’t even think about carrying them in your pocket!
- do not use fireworks near woods or any combustible material, use fireworks outdoors and in a safe area away from fields, grassy areas, and buildings
- Use fireworks in parking lots, driveways, and gravel or dirt areas
- only use fireworks with adult supervision
- follow the instructions provided
- do not use under the influence of alcohol
- have a rake or shovel as well as a bucket of water, wet towel, and a garden hose nearby.
- monitor the area for several hours after using fireworks.
- After you finish - Clean up all debris when finished. Duds can be dangerous; if a device does not light or fire, an adult should wait at least 15 minutes, approach it carefully, and place it in a bucket of water. Be sure all unused fireworks, matches and lighters are out of the sight and reach of children.
- Dispose of fireworks properly. Soak them completely in water before putting them in the trash can.
Possessing, selling or using unlawful fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500.
Remember, fireworks of any kind are NEVER allowed on federal lands.
Some localities, including Chesterfield and Henrico counties, completely ban the sale, possession and use of any type of fireworks, including sparklers. Professional fireworks displays are allowed with a permit.
Fireworks - Wildfire Prevention Tips
If you are in an area where the use of fireworks are allowed please use the following tips
Keep dogs and other pets safe, too!
Another family member that fireworks can harm is pets. Veterinarians suggest that the loud noises associated with fireworks make dogs nervous. Frightened dogs feel more secure in small, familiar spaces. If pet owners crate their dogs, they should put them in the crate during a fireworks display. If not, pet owners can prepare a small, dimly-lit room, and can leave on the television or radio to drown out the fireworks. Dogs should never be left alone outside during a fireworks display. The noises could prompt them to run away to get away from the noise.
Also many dogs think the fast moving twirling, spinning fireworks are something they should go fetch and bring back to their owners, this could harm the pet or carry the flaming fireworks off into the dry grass or woods and start a fire.
The key to a safe holiday is to find out where and when fireworks can be used. Remember, even though some fireworks are legal to buy it does not mean they are legal to use everywhere and anywhere. Start by contacting your local fire officials, law enforcement or community leaders. If you are found responsible for having started a wildfire with fireworks, you may be liable for all suppression and reclamation costs or even face imprisonment and fines.
Virginia Fireworks Laws
- Permitted: Sparklers, fountains, pharaoh’s serpents, pinwheels, and whirligigs.
- Prohibited: Firecrackers, skyrockets, torpedoes, and other fireworks which explode, travel laterally, rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air.
- Display Permit: Apply to local authorities at least 15 days before display date.
- Insurance: Bond adequate to pay for all damages to persons or property is required.
- Operator: No license specifically required in state law.
Manufacture, Storage, Transportation
Banned items may not be transported, stored or manufactured.
Commonwealth of Virginia
Virginia Department of Fire Programs
Office of State Fire Marshal
Law Number - The Code of Virginia
Code of Virginia, Chap. 11, Sec. 59-1-142 et seq.
Statewide Fire Prevention Code Art. 27
NFPA 1123, NFPA 1124, and NFPA 1126