ILLINOIS — If you’re planning a do-it-yourself fireworks display to celebrate the 4th of July this year, knowing Illinois law on consumer fireworks is Step 1.
Fireworks laws have been greatly deregulated since the turn of the century. Some types of fireworks are legal everywhere, except in Massachusetts, where it’s illegal to buy or sell consumer fireworks or bring them in from states where they are legal. Many states allow the setting off of fireworks on the days before and after major holidays.
While Illinois allows a number of novelty fireworks that have a limited aerial range — including some smaller cone fountains, sparklers and other fireworks that contain limited amounts of pyrotechnic composition — the Illinois State Fire Marshal prohibits the sale, purchase, and use of other popular July 4 fireworks devices.
Among the fireworks that are considered illegal by state standards are handheld fireworks, bottle rockets, skyrockets, Roman candles, chasers, buzz bombs, helicopters, missiles, sky lanterns, firecrackers and other explosive devices.
The permissive atmosphere around fireworks regulation isn’t universal in the U.S. But in states that permit consumer fireworks, cities, and counties may adopt stricter codes and ordinances. And in extreme drought or high-wind conditions, local fire officials may prohibit them.
With dry and windy weather in Illinois threatening a drought, elevated fire risk means shooting off fireworks could result in brush fires, house fires or worse.
The strictest fireworks laws are in California, according to a map and list of state fireworks laws curated by Reader’s Digest. The law allows a limited window for fireworks use, from noon on June 28 through noon July 6, and restricts their use to people 16 and older.
Legal fireworks there are ground and handheld sparkling devices, cylindrical and cone fountains, wheel and ground spinners, illuminating torches, and certain flitter sparklers. Prohibited fireworks are firecrackers, Roman candles, chasers, wire and wooden stick sparklers, and skyrockets.
Nearby Indiana — where many Illinoisans go to buy their forbidden fireworks — has some of the most lenient laws. Anyone 18 or older can purchase and use fireworks whenever they want, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on non-holidays and later on holidays. All types of fireworks are legal as long as they meet U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission construction and labeling regulations.