It is approaching July 4th and as many of us know many people enjoy “blowing” things up. It maybe a “homage” to the rockets’ red glare that Americans love fireworks and prior to 1950, few states regulated them. But due to concern over injuries, enactment of laws were implemented.

Even sparklers burns at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and so it will severely burn and scar skin. In fact sparklers are the number one cause of reported injuries due to fireworks. The federal government regulates fireworks under the Hazardous Transportation Act and Hazardous Substances Act. But the federal government allows the states to enact their own more stringent statutes.

In California, the State Fireworks Law was enacted in 1974 (Health & Safety Code Section 12500 and following). Under this, the state classifies the items that qualify as “fireworks”, who may possess or sell them, and dictates when and where they may be set off.

Fireworks are defined as being any device containing chemical elements that do not require oxygen to burn and that produces audible, visual, mechanical or heat pyrotechnic effects for entertainment. Private citizens who are not licensed by the state to discharge explosives are strictly prohibited from possessing and/or discharging certain fireworks that state law lists as “dangerous.”

Unlike some states, California explicitly defines what are “safe and sane” fireworks. These are the fireworks that may be sold, purchased, and used by the general public, but only within very strict parameters. Only licensed retailers can sell them and they can only do so from June 28 to July 6 each year.

It is illegal to sell or give dangerous fireworks to anyone under 18 and illegal to sell or give safe and sane fireworks to anyone under 16. Most violations are misdemeanors with penalties of up to 1-year county jail and/or fine of up to $1000, excluding penalties and assessment charges. However, if you possess large quantities of dangerous fireworks and not licensed to do so, you can be charged with a felony with up to 3-years of state prison and up to $50,000 of fines, excluding restitution (i.e. fire department, victims).

Unlike people, pets do not associate the noise, flashes, and burning smell of the fireworks with celebration.  Pets, as many of you know, are terrified of fireworks. In fact, July 6 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters so keep your pet indoors. The loud noise creates panic for them and will make them break free and jump a fence to attempt to find safety. If your pet does manage to become lost, it is critical that proper identification is on them (microchip, ID tags) should be placed on them at all times.

Enjoy a safe and stress-free July 4th everyone! Any questions or inquiries, do not hesitate to email me at [email protected] or call my office at 310-601-7144.

To receive updates on legal matters, please like our facebook page: or follow us on Twitter: @AttyCastaneda and Instagram: @atty.castaneda. You may also visit our website at

CategoryLegal Advice