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Maryland Fireworks Laws: What's Legal, What's Not

Patch logo Patch 7/2/2019 Elizabeth Janney
a close up of a logo © Provided by Planck, LLC, d/b/a Patch Media

MARYLAND — As fireworks light up skies around the state, local and state officials are reminding people of the dangers of illegal fireworks and asking the public to be mindful of laws.

Since laws vary by area, we have outlined the policies by jurisdiction below. Violations can lead to fines.

These items are prohibited across the state by Maryland law:

  • Black Cat fireworks
  • Bottle rockets
  • Crackling balls
  • Cherry bombs
  • Firecrackers
  • Helicopter-type rockets
  • M-80s
  • Mortar tubes — anything shot from one is illegal
  • Moving tanks or other vehicles
  • Roman candles
  • Sky rockets
  • Smoke bombs
  • Spinning wheels

"The safest way to enjoy fireworks this July 4th holiday season is to attend one of the many public fireworks displays throughout the state," State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Maryland July 4 Fireworks Guide

These types of fireworks are allowed in Maryland, with exceptions noted below:

  • Gold-labeled sparklers (meaning they do not contain chlorates or perchlorates)
  • Novelty items (like snap pops, party poppers and snakes)
  • Ground-based sparkler devices
  • Toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns and other devices with paper caps so that a hand cannot touch the cap when the cap is in place for use
  • Paper-wrapped snappers that contain less than 0.03 grains of explosive composition
  • Ash-producing pellets known as "snakes"

Fireworks are illegal in Baltimore City as well as Montgomery and Prince George's counties, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Prince George's County: Inspectors To Enforce Fireworks Ban

All fireworks, including sparklers and snappers, are illegal in Prince George's County.

In the city of Laurel, officials advised inspectors from the fire marshal's office will be conducting an area canvass to enforce fireworks laws around the Fourth of July.

"Be aware inspectors from the Office of the Fire Marshal and Permit Services will be canvassing the City on Thursday, July 4...to ensure there are no illegal fireworks being used or sold," according to a statement from the city of Laurel, which indicated the canvass will also continue after Laurel's Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, July 6.

If people find unattended fireworks or see someone possessing, selling or using fireworks in Laurel are asked to call the Laurel Police Department at 301-498-0092; report it immediately for everyone’s safety, Laurel city officials advised.

Montgomery County: 3 Types Allowed

In Montgomery County, all fireworks are illegal to possess or discharge, including gold label sparklers.

These three things are allowed:

RELATED: Montgomery County 4th Of July Fireworks — What's Legal, What's Not

Howard County: 4 Types Allowed

In Howard County, these types of fireworks are legal:

  • Party poppers
  • Ignitable "snakes"
  • "Snap-and-pop" noisemakers
  • Handheld sparklers

Penalties For Breaking Fireworks Laws

Possessing or discharging illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor that can lead to a $250 fine.

Selling fireworks without a permit is subject to a fine up to $1,000.

Transporting fireworks across state lines is illegal, officials say, including after purchasing them in neighboring states such as Pennsylvania where they are legal.

Ground-Based Sparklers Prohibited In Some Areas

When lit, ground-based sparklers emit a shower of sparks and light that can extend several feet into the air. They may whistle but do not pop, crack, explode, move or shoot any projectiles, and they must have a base.

These may look innocuous, but they can be dangerous. As a result, they are illegal in some jurisdictions.

Ground-based sparklers are prohibited in these areas:

  • Ocean City
  • Harford County
  • Howard County

Handheld Sparklers Are Hazardous

Handheld sparklers are prohibited in Baltimore City as well as Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

These can cause injury, and the fire marshal advises children not to handle them, as they can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

"A sparkler can burn hot enough to melt gold," Dr. Dean Fiergang, ophthalmologist and executive board member of the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, said in a statement. "While advancements in ophthalmic surgery have come a long way, there is very little that can be done when temperatures that extreme make contact with the human eye."

In areas where handheld sparklers are legal, people must be at least 16 years old to buy them.

Officials offered this safety tip: Put used sparklers in a bucket of water that is on hand.

Fireworks Safety Tips

There were an estimated 9,100 injuries related to fireworks for which people were treated in emergency rooms across the United States in 2018, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

a person holding a sign: Graphic courtesy of the Consumer Product Safety Commission © Provided by Planck, LLC, d/b/a Patch Media Graphic courtesy of the Consumer Product Safety Commission

Here are fireworks safety tips from the fire marshal:

  • Light fireworks one at a time, and move away as soon as you have lit each.
  • Do not try to re-light a firework if it does not work the first time.
  • Do not allow children to use fireworks or sparklers.
  • Keep a bucket of water on hand.

At the end of the day, the goal of fireworks laws is to prevent injuries and fires.

"There were 17 fireworks-related incidents reported in Maryland last year," Geraci said.

When people light fireworks for personal use, eyes and hands in particular are prone to injury.

"This time of year is one of the busiest for The Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Memorial Hospital," Dr. Ryan Zimmerman, an orthopedic surgeon at the hospital, said in a statement. "If you experience a loss of digits during a fireworks accident, never put them directly on ice."

In the event of injury to fingers, Zimmerman advised: "First wrap them in gauze and place in a plastic bag within another plastic bag that contains a combination of ice and water. Go directly to your nearest emergency room."

a hand holding an object in his hand: Pictured is an imitation hand that officials use to demonstrate the effects of illegal fireworks. Photo is courtesy of the Office of the State Fire Marshal. © Provided by Planck, LLC, d/b/a Patch Media Pictured is an imitation hand that officials use to demonstrate the effects of illegal fireworks. Photo is courtesy of the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
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