It’s almost Independence Day and that means the thundering explosions of fireworks will soon fill the air.
As the United States prepares to mark its 240th birthday on July 4th, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders wants to make sure everyone enjoys a safe and happy holiday by leaving the fireworks to the professionals.
“Despite the warnings issued every year we still hear reports of people being injured by illegal fireworks,” said Freeholder Director John P. Kelly. “With so many professional fireworks shows scheduled around the county for the long weekend, there’s no reason anyone should risk setting off illegal fireworks.”
Possession of fireworks by anyone but a licensed professional is a disorderly persons offense, but possession with the intent to sell is a fourth-degree offense, with a possible maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment and fines up to $10,000.
Unfortunately, many types of fireworks can be easily purchased in other states, including neighboring Pennsylvania.
“Do not travel out of state and buy fireworks,” said Kelly, who is also Director of Law and Public Safety. “It may be legal to buy them, but it is illegal to bring them back across state lines and use them in New Jersey.”
Kelly said local police departments will be on the lookout for illegal fireworks in the days and leading up to July 4th.
Fireworks are a danger both to users and those who may be close by, said Freeholder Virginia E. Haines.
“When you light that fuse, you never know what is going to happen,” Haines said. “A rocket can fly out of control and strike a child or land on a roof and start a fire.”
According to federal statistics, fireworks injure nearly 10,000 people every year throughout the United States. The vast majority of those injuries occur during the two weeks leading up to and following July 4th.
Fireworks-related injuries can range from severe burns to even disfigurement.
“We’ve seen reports across the country of people who have blown off their fingers or suffered disfiguring injuries because the seemingly harmless firecracker they were holding suddenly exploded in their hand or near their face,” said Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Health Department.
Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, liaison to tourism, said there will be numerous opportunities to enjoy fireworks safely this Independence Day.
“Many of our towns will be hosting shows throughout the weekend,” Vicari said.
A listing of professional fireworks displays is posted on the county’s tourism website at www.oceancountytourism.com.
Even if you do decide to attend a professional show, Vicari had one final word of warning: leave the pets at home.
“Many dogs and other animals are terrified of the loud noises made by fireworks,” he said.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office also issued a reminder to OC residents and visitors that all fireworks are illegal to possess and use. It is a crime to sell, use, and/or possess any kind of fireworks—including Chinese firecrackers, Roman candles, M80’s, cherry bombs, salutes, M100’s, sparklers, etc.
OCPO noted that the vast majority of illegal fireworks are brought into Ocean County by adults and, as a result of such irresponsible actions, a disproportionate number of children suffer injuries. In an effort to prevent injuries and property damage, local departments will step-up enforcement activities during the summer “fireworks season” confiscating illegal fireworks.
Possession of illegal fireworks is a disorderly person offense and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 30 days in jail. Possession with intent to sell is a Fourth Degree crime, punishable by fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 18 months in jail. And, possession of destructive devices is a Third Degree crime with fines of up to $10,000 and incarceration of up to three to five years in jail
That’s funny! They’ve been blowing off fireworks for the last 6 hours in the MLK area, but haven’t seen anyone stopping them.
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