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Sell But Don't Buy Fireworks in PA

With the Fourth of July this Friday, you might be seeing firework tents scattered throughout the state -- however, much of what is for sale in those large tents cannot be purchased by most Pennsylvania residents.

Pennsylvania state law allows residents to buy and use items defined as “ground and hand-held sparkling devices,” “novelties” and “toy caps” by the American Pyrotechnics Association.

However, according to Adam Reed, Pennsylvania State Police Public Information Officer, the law is strict when it comes to more-explosive items.

“Consumers are really limited to anything with only a small amount of powder in it,” Reed said. “Sparklers and things like the toy throwing caps are legal, but anything that shoots into the air or really gives off a lot of flames or explodes would be illegal under Pennsylvania law.”

If anyone would like to buy and use the bigger fireworks, they are required to apply for a permit through their municipality.

However, out-of-state residents are able to buy those fireworks as long as they have proof that they do not live in the commonwealth.

“A lot of the larger stores that you see around the border areas in Pennsylvania it’s actually illegal for a Pennsylvania resident to go in and purchase these large fireworks, they would need to show that they have one of these permits before they could purchase,” Reed said. “Additionally, out-of-state residents can go in and make purchases in these stores.”

According to Reed, illegal fireworks will be confiscated and residents using them face fines.

He said most of the calls the police receive are “nuisance-based calls” in which people are setting off fireworks next to a house or at night - or getting hurt.

“It’s unfortunate as emergency responders, police, fire and EMS personnel, we do see a lot of accidents relating to fireworks,” Reed said. “It’s important that you use these responsibly and keep in mind that often times alcohol and fireworks just don’t mix.”

He also cautioned residents who are using legal fireworks to be careful.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission stated 5,200 fireworks-related injuries were treated in hospitals throughout the country between June 22nd and July 22nd, 2012.

According to the Commission, sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit - which is hope enough to melt some metals.

“It’s very important that you always have water handy and use these fireworks outdoors,” Reed said. “Another tip would be: never light a dud firework, those can be very dangerous and could go off at any time, so soak those in a bucket of water prior to you getting rid of them.”