BELMAR/LAKE COMO, NJ — Sparklers of all types and styles, smoke cones and party poppers, snakes and snappers. As the Fourth of July approaches, displays packed with colorful boxes of fireworks smack shoppers right as they walk into retailers, large and small.

But while certain “novelty” fireworks are now legal for consumers age 16 and over to purchase, local fire officials are stressing it doesn’t make them less dangerous. In fact, novelty sparklers have the highest injury rate among children when it comes to fireworks-related mishaps, according to Belmar/Lake Como Fire Marshal Ryan Dullea.

“Use extreme caution while using those devices and follow all manufacturers' instructions for use,” said Dullea, adding that sparklers in particular can burn between 1,200 to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and are blamed for 41 percent of all fireworks-related injuries, regardless of age.

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His words of caution are being reiterated by Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. “The result of fireworks being handled in the wrong way can cause serious injuries,” he said. “It’s important to know that the danger is not only limited to general Fourth of July fireworks. Even sparklers, which are now exempt from the state’s fireworks ban, should be kept away from small children, as they can easily cause harm.”

During the two-week periods before and after the Fourth of July in 2017 the first time novelty fireworks were legal for the holiday in New Jersey — fireworks-related calls to the Monmouth County 9-1-1 Communications Center skyrocketed 41 percent over the previous year, from 193 to 273 calls.

In Belmar and Lake Como, there will be a “zero tolerance policy” for anyone shooting off illegal "aerial" fireworks, which should be kept in the hands of the professionals. Fireworks that remain unlawful for the public to use include sky rockets, bottle rockets, firecrackers, Chinese lanterns and Roman candles, among others.

For a comparison of what types of fireworks are legal and not legal in New Jersey, click here.

For questions on whether a Belmar or Lake Como business is selling legal novelty fireworks, contact the Belmar Fire Marshal’s Office at 732-681-3700, ext. 239, or firemarshal@belmar.com.

Keeping Safe with Permitted Fireworks this Fourth of July

Belmar/Lake Como Fire Marshal Ryan Dullea offered the following safety tips when using legal ground-based fireworks.

  • Do not use fireworks if you are have under the influence of a alcohol/controlled substance.
  • Children under the age of 16 shall not possess or use such devices.
  • Sparkler holders should be standing up, not sitting down.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes; definitely not flip flops, when you're handling sparklers.
  • Do not pass an already lit sparkler.
  • Lighting more than one stick at a time is extremely dangerous.
  • Everyone using a sparkler should be at least 6 feet from one another.
  • While it may seem festive to wave a sparkler, this is an extreme risk. Sparklers shall be stationary.
  • Sparklers are not batons. Never toss or throw them. Never attempt to touch someone with a sparkler.
  • The sparkler stick can remain hot long after the flame is gone, so it should be disposed of in a bucket of water.
  • Fireworks are not toys, and should not be used as toys.

If anyone is injured by fireworks, immediately seek medical attention. If an eye injury occurs, do not touch or rub the eye, as this may cause even more damage. Also, do not flush out the eye with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye and immediately seek medical attention — the affected person’s eyesight may depend on it.

If someone if burned by fireworks, remove the clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn (do not use ice). Seek medical attention immediately.

If a fireworks-related incident occurs, call the Belmar Police Department at 732-681-1700.