Fourth of July fireworks: Know what’s allowed in your area

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DENVER -- Planning to light up the night on the Fourth of July? Know the laws for your area before you start your celebration or you could get stuck paying hundreds of dollars in fines or even end up in jail.

In general, any device that explodes or leaves the ground is illegal in Colorado. That includes firecrackers, cherry bombs, bottle rockets, M-80s and Roman candles, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

"Colorado law defines permissible fireworks as any device that does not explode or leave the ground," Jefferson County officials said.

Most areas allow cylindrical or cone fountains, sparklers, toy smoke devices, snakes and glow worms.

However, in some places, including Aurora, Denver, Commerce City, Fort Collins, Northglenn, Lakewood, LafayetteThornton and Wheat Ridge, no personal fireworks are allowed -- not even sparklers.

"Fort Collins residents are reminded that use of all fireworks is illegal -- including sparklers and snakes," city officials said. "Possession and storage of fireworks is also prohibited."

Penalties for fireworks violations in Colorado include fines ranging from $120 to $2,750 and up to a year in jail.

"Use of fireworks could also result in criminal charges such as arson, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment," according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Check the laws in your area

Arapahoe County

Aurora

Boulder

Boulder County

Brighton

Broomfield

Douglas County

El Paso County

Erie

Evans

Fort Collins

Greeley

Jefferson County

Lafayette

Lakewood

Larimer County

Loveland

Thornton

Westminster

Wheat Ridge

Officials say even legal fireworks can cause serious injuries.

"Nearly 40 percent of all fireworks-related injuries are caused by permissible-type fireworks, such as sparklers, fountains, and novelty items," officials said.  "Sparklers, which many people incorrectly assume to be a completely safe item, burn at temperatures above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can easily cause burn injuries and result in accidental fires."

Always follow safety tips when using fireworks:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don’t realize that there are many injuries from sparklers to children younger than 5. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.
  • 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 one item at a time then move back quickly.
  • After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.

Officials recommend attending a professional fireworks display in your area.