Fireworks: All You Need to Know

What's the fine for playing with illegal fireworks? What are some safety tips for this weekend? And what's the best way to photograph the big patriotic fireworks show?

Fourth of July weekend is nearly upon us, and we're here to make sure you don't blow off your hands, blow a good photo opportunity or blow over the legal limit.

Whether you want to know why you can't set off your own fireworks, where to see a local show and how to photograph that show, read below.

Fireworks Illegal in Illinois

You can have sparklers, smoke bombs and party poppers, but the fun stops there. Fireworks are illegal in Illinois, and if you're caught with them the penalty can range from a small fine to nearly a year in prison.

Sgt. Mike Fisher of the said while it's OK to have things like sparklers and smoke bombs, the local fine for possessing the stuff that goes boom doubled this year to $500.

"This year they upped the ordinance," Fisher said. "Basically, it's very similar to the state law."

In general, Fisher said, anything you can buy at stores like is OK to have. Anything that explodes — bottle rockets, firecrackers, torpedos, squibs or anything containing an explosive — is a no-no. For a list of both legal and illegal fireworks, click here.

"If you've got to go to Indiana to buy it or you buy it in somebody's basement, then you're taking a risk," Fisher said.

The Plainfield Police Department takes a zero tolerance approach to fireworks enforcement. Anyone caught with illegal fireworks faces a $500 fine, confiscation of the explosives and a possible felony conviction, police said.

Residents can expect a stepped-up enforcement in the days before and after the Fourth.

"During the week before the Fourth of July and a few days after, we have officers out that their only assignment is to patrol for fireworks," Fisher said. 

Fourth of July Safety Tips

Silver Cross Hospital offered a bunch of , including some powerful numbers about firework-related injuries and drunken driving. 

There are about 8,500 firework-related injuries each year in the U.S., 2,000 of which are eye injuries. And although sparklers are legal here, they account for three-quarters of all firework injuries in preschoolers.

"There have been many occasions where we've had to help the ambulance department look for fingers in the grass so they can be transported with the person," Fisher said. "[Fireworks are] very volatile. It's not a question of if it's going to happen, it's when."

The also urges residents to take the following precautions:

  • While novelty fireworks such as snakes, glow-worm pellet, smoke bombs and sparklers are legal, be sure to keep a charged garden hose nearby to extinguish any small fire that could develop in dry grass or mulch.
  • Remember that sparklers burn at up to 1,800 degrees and can set clothing, decks, dry grass and mulch on fire. 
  • Always have a bucket of sand available to dispose of used sparklers.
  • Don't run around with lit sparklers and do not use them while standing on a wooden deck, dry lawn or other combustible materials.

For more on fireworks safety, check out:

Patriotic Picnic Will Go On - No Fireworks

The park district's Patriotic Picnic & Fireworks will kick off at 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, at , 24120 W. Fort Beggs Drive, but the hot, dry weather means the planned .

The free event includes an inflatable obstacle course for kids, "Chalk It Up" sidewalk art, touch-a-truck opportunities including military, police and fire vehicles, a presentation by Operation Support Our Troops and more. 

A DJ will provide music throughout the evening, and park district dance classes will perform at 7 p.m. 

Guests are welcome to bring blankets, picnic baskets, chairs and coolers for the all-ages event. Alcohol is not allowed on school or park district property. Concessions will be provided by the Plainfield Central Athletic Booster Club. 

Plainfield police announced the following picnic-related parking and traffic information:

  • All roadways in and around Plainfield Central, specifically Fort Beggs Drive and James Street, will be heavily congested.
  • Starting early in the morning of Tuesday, July 3, the south parking lot off Fort Beggs Drive across from Plainfield Central will be closed to all vehicles other than those participating in the Patriotic Picnic.
  • Picnic and handicapped parking is available at Plainfield Central. Additional parking for the fireworks show is available at , 15629 S. Route 59.
  • Motorists should expect longer-than-normal delays and be aware of an increase in pedestrian traffic in and around Plainfield Central and along Route 59.

How to Photograph Fireworks

Capturing fireworks on camera is a challenge that can be mastered easily with the right equipment and settings on your camera. Here is a short tutorial to help you  capture the rockets' red glare this Fourth of July.  

Equipment needed:

  • Camera: Either point-and-shoot or an SLR.
  • Tripod: To keep the camera steady and prevent motion blur.
  • Flashlight:  To see the camera settings in the dark.
  • Wireless Trigger: Not necessary but it helps to prevent camera shake.

Head over to Rochester Patch for photos and more step-by-step advice on .


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Steve June 27, 2012 at 07:34 PM
I agree, there is probably more money in taxing the sale than ticketing the few they catch using them.
Miguel Sanchez June 27, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Seems like a missed revenue opportunity for IL. Sell them a week before and a week after. Put similar restrictions on using them; who, when, where. etc.......
Nan June 27, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Shooting off fireworks is not "celebrating independence in your own private yard". The noise & lights carry across the miles, disrupting young children's sleep and terrifying young children and pets. The police SHOULD enforce zero tolerance and residents SHOULD show more respect for their neighbors. I am just astonished at the constant fireworks displays every summer weekend and especially over the 4th week. Recession? Not here. Plainfield residents seem to have plenty of money to burn.
Kate G June 27, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I agree, Illinois really should rethink the laws about fireworks. Missed opportunity for taxing... And they are fun to use for the 4th ;)
Joan Senffner June 28, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Please consider the poor, scared dog or cat who doesn't understand humans(or non-human) need for loud noise & the possibility of blowing a limb off. I called the Will Country Police 17/x last July d/t dynamite exlposions that were being released in our subdivision 2011. Not to mention the trip to to ER(vet) & our vet. WE can celebrate the Independence of our Country without terrifying God's creatures. Karma........


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