BELMAR, NJ — Several days before the Fourth of July holiday, Gov. Chris Christie made it lawful to sell and use sparklers and certain novelty fireworks in New Jersey — a decision that sparked Belmar officials to stress the dangers of these types of fireworks.

Sparklers in particular can burn between 1,200 to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and are blamed for 41 percent of injuries relating to fireworks, according to Belmar Fire Marshal Ryan Dullea in a statement. 

“The Belmar Fire Marshal Office, as well as the Belmar Police Department, do not support the use of fireworks,” he said, adding that there is a “zero tolerance policy” in Belmar for all fireworks, except for the now-legal nonaerial fireworks. These permitted fireworks include hand-held sparklers, ground-based sparklers, poppers, snappers, glow-worms and smoke devices.

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

Dullea offered the following safety tips when using these 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 732-681-1800.

The History of Fireworks in New Jersey

New Jersey now joins Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Vermont as states that allow only the sale and use of sparkler and novelty fireworks. Delaware and Massachusetts now are the only states banning the sale and use of all consumer fireworks.

However, all other fireworks remain illegal to sell and use in New Jersey, including firecrackers, aerials, sky rockets/bottle rockets, single-tube device with report, reloadable shell device/Roman candles.

The use and sale of fireworks on the illegal list is considered a disorderly person's offense. The charge carries a fine of up to $500.

New Jersey's fireworks ban was put into place way back in 1937. It passed with a unanimous vote mostly because of a particularly dangerous Fourth of July in 1936 that led to numerous injuries resulting from fireworks use. The injured were mostly children, and the horrific stories were front-page news at the time. Perhaps the most tragic tale was one that appeared in the Trenton Times about Marvin Kaplin,whose death was caused by fireworks.The 9-year-old Perth Amboy boy was the first of two youngsters to die at the hands of fireworks in 1936.  In all, more than 900 people headed to the hospital with medical issues caused by fireworks that year, which was the catalyst for the New Jersey legislature to enact the fireworks ban.