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Police, fire departments urge fireworks, sparklers be used safely

Glow sticks, LED wands serve as safer  holiday alternatives

Those planning to celebrate the end of 2020 tonight should remember that while consumer fireworks are legal in West Virginia, only sparklers are legal in Morgantown city limits.

Possession of and using fireworks, except sparklers, is a misdemeanor and can be punished by a fine of $100-$500, Capt. Matt Solomon of the Morgantown Police Department, said. Each individual firework, for example,  possession of five firecrackers, could result in a separate charge.

However, Solomon said he’s never had anyone be difficult about it and a warning and confiscation of the fireworks is enough.

Outside of Morgantown, a 2016 law made consumer fireworks — such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and firecrackers — legal, Chief Deputy Al Kisner of  Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office said.

While sparklers are allowed in Morgantown, they are dangerous, said Andy Dotson, the Morgantown Fire Department’s fire prevention coordinator said.

In 2018, about a quarter of emergency room visits were for fireworks-related injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Sparklers are the only kind of fireworks injury calls Dotson said he’s been on.

The risk of sparklers — which burn at 1,200 degrees —  setting a fire is lower for New Year’s than the Fourth of July because there is generally more moisture around, but the risk is still there, Dotson said.

The NFPA recommends using glow sticks instead of sparklers. Dotson said there are also wands with different color LED lights that can fill the same role.

If sparklers or any fireworks are going to be used though, Dotson recommends keeping a bucket of water handy in which to put the sparklers out. A wooden or polymer handle to hold sparklers and prevent hand burns is also advised.

Dotson said the new year is also a good time to check smoke alarm batteries, which should be done monthly but at least twice a year.

If you have pets, it’s a good idea to keep them inside, as well. The sound of fireworks can be upsetting to animals, and more pets run off on New Year’s Eve than any other day besides July 4 due to fright.

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