Posted in News on July 25, 2019
Many people think of Independence Day when they think of fireworks. However, fireworks are available all year long in this state, and people shoot them off for a variety of reasons: New Year’s Eve, birthdays, weddings, and sometimes for no real reason at all.
Fireworks can be fun, but they can also be dangerous. It is estimated that fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires a year and injure thousands. What are the laws regarding fireworks in Montana?
Montana restricts the sale of fireworks to two times a year: June 24 to July 5 and then December 29 to December 31. The state does not have a statewide ban on shooting off fireworks, but many municipalities have their own ordinances. For example, it is illegal to set off fireworks in the city limits of Helena, and officials take the law seriously. Other cities that have fireworks restrictions include Billings, Columbia Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula.
“If we locate you setting off fireworks in the city, you will be cited,” said Lt. Tim Coleman of the Helena Police Department. In Helena, those in violation of the firework ordinance could face a misdemeanor charge leading to a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail.
If you are planning to shoot off fireworks in Montana, be sure to check with your local authorities first. Many people may not realize that fireworks laws change from city to city or county to county. You do not want to be caught off guard and end up with a ticket.
We know that fireworks laws can seem like a downer, especially around holidays when fireworks are popular. Don’t get discouraged. Many municipalities and counties have professional fireworks shows for you and your family to enjoy.
Be safe when shooting off fireworks
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows us that fireworks can be dangerous. Looking at data from their latest report, we can see that fireworks we involved in over 9,000 injuries treated in US hospitals in 2018.
62% of all fireworks injuries during 2018 happened during a one month special study period between June 22, 2018 and July 22, 2018. It is no coincidence that most fireworks injuries happen around the July Fourth holiday.
- Children younger than 15 accounted for 36% of all injuries.
- Children 10 to 14 years of age had the highest rate of fireworks injuries.
- The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (28%), legs (24%), eyes (19%), head/face/ears (15%), and arms (4%).
The CPSC recommends never allowing children to play with or ignite fireworks. They also want the public to be aware that sparklers, though they seem less dangerous, can cause serious injuries. They can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to burn some metals.
- Never point fireworks at a person
- Do not carry fireworks in your pocket
- Keep a bucket of water nearby in case of a mishap
- Never try to re-light or pick up unexploded fireworks
- Do not shoot fireworks off near heavily wooded areas
- Be very careful with lighters and other flammable liquids
“We see fires in some unusual places like people’s yards,” said Helena Deputy Fire Marshal Lou Antonick. “We want people to have a great Fourth of July, but be safe across the board.”