What to know before setting off fireworks in Ohio

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DELAWARE, Ohio (WCMH) — The Fourth of July is right around the corner, and some people have started celebrating early this year.  

According to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, there has been an increase in the number of calls for service complaining about illegal fireworks being set off.  

Chief Deputy for the Sheriff’s Office Jon Scowden says these calls started coming in nearly a month ago, much earlier than they normally do around this time of year.  

It is still illegal in Ohio to launch fireworks without a license. Illegal backyard displays pop up in neighborhoods and fields around the Fourth of July every year.  

Setting off fireworks illegally is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Scowden says finding those responsible for the display is not difficult.  

While some may not think these firework’s displays are a big deal, and embrace the patriotic symbolism they carry, they can be quite destructive.  

Fires can spread to homes or in fields causing bodily harm and monetary damage.

The displays can also spook animals, specifically domestic pets and livestock.

Livestock have been known to run through fences to escape the unexpected booming noises. Horses will run blindly into anything that gets in their way, including people and other horses and run through gates and fences.

Fay Baynton has been training horses for years. She has seen what happens first hand when horses get scared.  

“A friend of ours last year, their horses collided head on and they both died,” said Baynton. “He had to put them down.”

The horses were worth tens of thousands of dollars.  

Scaring animals is just one drawback these colorful and vibrant displays can have. They can also negatively impact people, especially those with PTSD.  

A number of veterans suffering from PTSD find this time of year difficult because their condition can be triggered by an unexpected fireworks display.  

Shana Kemp is a licensed therapist working in Delaware County. She says some of her patients have to leave the country to escape the celebrations that trigger their trauma.  

“I’ve even had some clients tell me that they actually go to Canada just to get out of that area for a while,” said Kemp.  

She says veterans with PTSD aren’t the only victims of an unscheduled fireworks display.  

“The truth is, you don’t know who’s living beside you. It can be someone who has served in the military and overseas, or it could be someone who’s a victim of violence just in general,” said Kemp. “It can be extremely, extremely traumatic for them. It can be extremely frightening for them. It could cause them to experience severe anxiety. It can make them actually kind of relive the event. I mean it’s extremely, extremely distressing for someone that’s having to endure this.”  

There are ways to celebrate legally in Ohio, according to Scowden. Novelty fireworks that smoke, pop, or sparkle are all legal to be used in the state.  

“We want our kids to have fun with those, but parents still need to be careful with those because those things can burn and they can hurt a young child, so they need to properly watch them while they’re using those,” said Scowden. 

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