Summer Safety: Fireworks Laws Vary by State | DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

Most Americans celebrate Fourth of July evening by watching a fireworks display.  Fireworks can cause serious injuries to children and adults alike.  For those who choose to put on fireworks at home without a professional, the National Council on Fireworks Safety (NCFS) has a few safety tips. Additionally, learn what types of fireworks are and are not permitted in the state where you’ll be celebrating.  The chart below illustrates fireworks regulations for the DC Metro Area.

Specifically Permitted

Specifically Prohibited


Toy paper caps containing not more than 0.25 grain of explosive composition per cap, sparklers less than 20”in length, torches, box fire, fountains, cones, dip sticks, non-poisonous snakes, novelties, and colored lights.

Firecrackers of any kind of description. Any fireworks that explode, (cherry bombs, salutes, roman candles, floral shells, artillery shells,) or intended to move after the piece is placed and fires (bottle rockets, parachutes, buzz bombs, pinwheels, helicopters, jumping jacks.) Sparklers more than 20” in length that contain dangerous chemicals, or any highly oxidizing agent. Fireworks having a side fuse, or a fuse inserted at any point along the length of the firework, and any firework found by the Fire Chief to be dangerous to the safety of any person or property.


Sparklers containing no chlorates or perchlorates, ground based sparkling devices that are non-aerial non-explosive, and are labeled in accordance with the requirements of CPSC. Paper wrapped snappers containing less than 3/100 grains of explosive composition, and snakes that contain no mercury and are not regulated by DOT. Note: retailers must submit products for testing and approval to State Fire Marshal’s Office prior to sale.

All others


Sparklers, fountains, pharaoh’s serpents, pinwheels, and whirligigs.

Firecrackers, skyrockets, torpedoes, and other fireworks which explode, travel laterally, rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air.

State firework laws should nor be the only consideration. The NCFS suggests:

  • Use fireworks outdoors only
  • Obey local laws
  • Always have water handy
  • Only use fireworks in intended manner
  • Never re-light a “dud” firework (instead, soak it in a bucket of water after 20 minutes)
  • Use common sense
    • keep spectators at a safe distance
    • the shooter should wear safety glasses
  • Don’t mix alcohol and fireworks
  • Only those age 12 and over should handle sparklers of any type
  • Never use homemade fireworks, report illegal explosives immediately

More safety tips are included on the National Counsel on Fireworks Safety (NCFS) website.

Previous entries on the DC Metro Personal Injury Law Blog highlight other safety issues related to fireworks:

For information about your legal rights, please click here or call the law firm of Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at (202) 463-3030.

TweetLikeEmailLinkedInGoogle Plus Tags: Burn Injury, Child Safety, Consumer Safety, Defective Products, Premises Liability