HARRISBURG – As Pennsylvanians celebrate Independence Day, Acting State Fire Commissioner Charles McGarvey is urging residents to take the necessary steps to protect both their loved ones and property. He says fireworks are not toys and people need to understand the risks, how to properly handle fireworks, and to encourage users to be courteous to their neighbors and communities. McGarvey gave the following suggestions: Never allow children to play with fireworks, even sparklers, which can burn at temperatures of at least 1200 degrees; keep water or a garden hose nearby in case of a fire; never pick up or try to relight fireworks that have not fully ignited; and after fireworks have burned, fully douse them with water before picking them up or disposing to prevent trash fires. He added remain a safe distance from the ignition location; never use fireworks after consuming alcohol or substances that can impair judgment or the ability to react quickly; and be sensitive of neighbors and their pets, particularly if military veterans live nearby. Fireworks start over 19,500 fires per year and cause an average of $105 million in direct property damage.

Under state law, Pennsylvanians at least 18 years old may purchase and use Class C or consumer-grade fireworks. Certain restrictions apply, including that they cannot be ignited or discharged on public or private property without the express permission of the property owner; they cannot be discharged from within or towards a motor vehicle or building; they cannot be discharged within 150 feet of an occupied structure, whether or not a person is actually present; and they cannot be discharged while the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or another drug. Local ordinances may include additional restrictions, so check with your municipality before purchasing or using Class C fireworks.