Among the many errands being run this week will be shopping trips to prepare for July 4 festivities. If those shopping trips include purchases of consumer-grade fireworks and novelties, law enforcement and safety officials hope you will remember to obey the law and adhere to the strictest of safety precautions.

In fact, it is important to remember the laws pertaining to fireworks in our states. Ohio, for example, allows the purchase of consumer-grade fireworks, such as bottle rockets and Roman candles, by anyone over 18, but does not allow for their use, within the state. Those fireworks must be taken outside state borders within 48 hours of purchase. Novelties such as sparklers and snaps are legal for backyard use.

West Virginia is a little tougher. Consumer-grade fireworks are illegal to possess and use. Period. Novelties are still permitted.

But even novelty items can cause serious injury. Last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 11,400 people were treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by fireworks – including novelties. Sparklers were responsible for approximately 2,300 of those visits.

In addition to personal injury, Chief Deputy Ohio Fire Marshal Jeff Leaming said fireworks caused 10 fires resulting in $22,000 in damage last year.

Be smart and safe with your celebrations this week. Obey the law. If you want to see big, colorful explosions, go to a publicly conducted fireworks show – there are many to choose from here in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“We encourage you to stay at a safe distance and allow the professionals to shoot off those fireworks,” Leaming said.

Sound advice for those seeking to celebrate a truly happy Fourth of July.