We all love a good fireworks show as we celebrate our Independence Day. Couple that with some grilling and family fun celebrated by 330 million people and that’s one big party. Yet, we must take precautions to avoid injury as around the 4th of July holiday, an average of 180 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries, according to the United States Consumer Safety Commission. More than half (57 percent) of the injuries are burns.
I’m Chris Parks with North Star Services, LLC and I’m going to review fireworks safety tips as well as the overall legality of fireworks in Tennessee.
Celebrating With A Bang
Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades, and fireworks. And as Americans, we love our fireworks. Revenue from fireworks sales in the U.S. reached $1.9 billion in 2020—that’s nearly double 2019’s fireworks revenue of $1 billion, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. But with all the ooh’s and ahh’s, the supernova of colors exploding in the sky, and kids running and giggling with sparklers, we must also be cautious and take precaution.
A Recent Spike in Injuries and Deaths
In 2020, there was a 50 percent increase in deaths and injuries due to fireworks, according to a new report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). There were at least 18 deaths and approximately 15,600 ER visits because of fireworks-related incidents, according to the CPSC—with numbers likely spiking due to large numbers of people setting fireworks off on their own after many public displays were canceled due to pandemic precautions.
In addition to causing injuries, fireworks may also increase exposure to toxic pollutants like lead, according to a study in the 2020 journal “Particle and Fibre Toxicology.”
Fireworks Safety Tips
If consumer fireworks are legal where you live in Tennessee and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:
Wear eye protection
Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks
Never place any part of your body directly over a firework device when lighting fuse
Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks
Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks
Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals
Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
Check your surroundings
Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface. Try not to set off anything near buildings or dry areas to avoid setting fire to a home, car, or forest.
Be careful with Anything that Launches
Devices that launch into the sky are often responsible for the most severe injuries. Fireworks packaged in brown paper can be especially dangerous, because that’s often a sign they’re meant to be part of professional displays.
Don’t Relight a Dud
If a firework doesn’t go off as expected, still consider it “lit” and douse it in water. Douse every device after it’s done burning, the CPSC says, to avoid a potential trash fire.
Be Careful with Sparklers
In many places, sparklers are the only devices that can be legally purchased, which makes people think they’re safest—and which is why kids are often allowed to handle them. But young children should never play with fireworks, according to the CPSC. Sparklers can burn at up to 2,000° F, hot enough to melt metal and instantly sear skin.
Protect Your Hearing
Anything louder than 85 decibels can affect your hearing within an hour or two, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. A firework can hit 150 decibels at a 3-foot range, which is enough to immediately damage hearing. Get far away and consider using earplugs.
Keep Kids Away
More than one-third of fireworks injuries happen to kids under 15. Keeping them away from launching fireworks can prevent burns and hearing loss.
Making sure not to breathe in smoky, post-boom air may be especially important for kids. Fireworks can release toxic pollutants like lead, titanium, and strontium into the air. These can affect ones lungs.
Do NOT let your pet(s) outside while fireworks are being used. Many pets are terrified of the loud sounds and are likely to negatively react to the sounds. The safest place for them is inside of your home and away from the noise. If your pet does happen to escape your home, please be sure to have an ID tag with your name and phone number so they can be found.
Fireworks and the Law
Before purchasing or detonating fireworks, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) urges residents to check with their local police or fire department to determine local laws about fireworks.
In addition to local laws, Tennessee has several state laws pertaining to fireworks:
Tennessee law prevents children under 16 from purchasing fireworks. Those who are 16 or 17 must present a photo ID to purchase them
State legislation passed in 2011 reclassified sky lanterns as special fireworks exclusively for use by individuals with a professional license. The general public cannot purchase or use sky lanterns. If a sky lantern is found in the possession of someone who does not have a professional license issued by the SFMO, the device can be confiscated and destroyed
A law passed in 2015 prohibits flying a drone (unmanned aircraft) above an outdoor ticketed event with more than 100 people or flying it in the vicinity of a fireworks display site without the permission of the event operator
Laws for Selling, Setting off Fireworks in Middle TN
In the state of Tennessee, it is illegal to sell fireworks without a proper permit. The legality of setting off consumer fireworks varies depending on the municipality. Check your area's municipal code for more details:
It is illegal to both sell and use fireworks in Brentwood.
It is illegal to both use and sell fireworks in Davidson county without a permit.
Fireworks may be used July 3 through July 5 from noon to 11 p.m. Those using fireworks may not use them on public property, within 600 feet of a public school, church, hospital, or public park; or within 200 feet of a gas station, or near any other person or automobile.
In Franklin, it is illegal to both sell and use fireworks, including sparklers and sky lanterns.
Gallatin residents may use any DOT consumer fireworks as well as any other fireworks approved by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Any firework vendors must first obtain a permit before selling fireworks.
Approved fireworks may be sold only with a permit. Residents may use DOT Class C common fireworks as well as any other approved fireworks.
In Mount Juliet, it is illegal to sell, use, or possess fireworks not classified as DOT Class C common fireworks; approved fireworks may be sold with a permit from June 20 to July 5. It is illegal for anyone under age 18 to buy fireworks.
Fireworks may only be sold by those with a permit; fireworks may only be used from July 3 to July 5, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Banned fireworks include mortar tubes, reloadable fireworks, and bottle rockets.
Please be mindful that fireworks are not fun for everyone. Loud booms, pops, and snaps can be triggering for veterans, pets, and others. If you can, try using fireworks that are not excessively loud. Be careful about when you are lighting fireworks (stick to city and/or county ordinances). And, stay safe!
Request A Free Inspection Today
If your home or business has experienced fire damage, you can rely on North Star Services, LLC for comprehensive cleanup and restoration services. Our fire damage restoration specialists are available to provide you with a fresh start. As a certified IICRC restoration and remediation company in Nashville, Berry Hill & throughout Middle Tennessee, North Star Services, LLC uses state-of-the-art equipment to inspect and treat both commercial and residential properties. We provide free mold and other restoration inspections. And, are available 24/7, 365 days a year for emergencies such as water damage, flood and storm damage and more. Contact us at 629-221-0638 or request a free estimate now.