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Focus on the fireworks: Law enforcement, emergency officials urge safety for holiday

Joe Ritter and his mother Heather Kloehne, both from Colorado, shop for fireworks Tuesday afternoon at Generous Jerry’s tent near Marketplace Foods in Bemidji. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI -- It's the first week of July and that means the Fourth.

With Independence Day fast approaching Friday, many people are digging their Red, White and Blue T-shirts out of the drawers and are off to the grocery store to buy burgers and brats for a Fourth of July cookout.

They're also are thinking about fireworks. But for those planning their own Fourth pyrotechnics, law enforcement and safety officials are reminding residents and visitors about safety and Minnesota fireworks laws.

Under Minnesota law, both aerial and explosive fireworks are banned. That includes many popular varieties of firework such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, parachutes and ladyfingers.

Wire or wood sparklers of no more than 100 grams of mixture per item are allowed, and ground-based sparkling devices that are non-explosive and non-aerial are also permitted, but they must contain 75 grams or less of chemical mixture per tube or a total of 500 grams or less for multiple tube items, according to state law.

What can people use? These fireworks are legal for some backyard fun in Minnesota: snakes and glow worms, smoke devices, or trick noisemakers, such as party and string poppers, paper streamers, snappers and drop pops.

And the location matters, too. The use of fireworks is not permitted on public property, according to state law.

To purchase fireworks, valid photo identification must be provided, and purchasers must be 18 years of age or older.

Law enforcement officials will be on the lookout this week; the state fire marshall, or any sheriff, police officer or local fire marshall can seize and remove any fireworks from the owner that violates state law. One area officials work with every year is education. State laws vary on fireworks, so items that may be legal and for sale in North Dakota, for example, may not be legal to shoot off in Minnesota.

Safety first

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Fireworks Information Center offers these tips when using fireworks:

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize young children can and do suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees -- hot enough to melt some metals.

• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

• Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

For any questions regarding the legality of fireworks, contact the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office at (218) 333-9111.