Kentucky Firework Laws
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Kentucky Firework Laws

Fireworks may be legal, but setting themselves off yourself could be risky.  In the U.S. each summer, more than 200 injuries a day and millions of dollars in property damage occur due to the misuse of fireworks.  In 2020, there were 18 deaths and over 15,000 injuries related to fireworks, according to the Consumer Product Safety CommissionAdditionally, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires.  This is why the National Fire Protection Association recommends that you leave fireworks in the hands of professionals as fireworks pose too significant a risk to both people and property to use them “safely”.

As the Fourth of July approaches, street-side vendors set up tents and sell a display of fireworks purchased by Americans for the holiday festivities. Fireworks are fun for the whole family, but have high risk and should only be used with great precaution. Do you know the firework laws where you will be celebrating Independence Day? Be safe this Fourth of July by knowing which fireworks are legal and where they are legal to use in your hometown or vacation destination.

Kentucky Firework Laws

Each state has unique firework laws, and it is important to know the rules to stay legal this Fourth of July.   In Kentucky, state law says:

• You must be 18 or older to buy, use or sell fireworks
• You cannot ignite fireworks within 200 feet of any home, vehicle, structure or another person
• You cannot use the fireworks in a way that violates local ordinances

Municipal laws override state laws in Kentucky. If your city has stricter rules against certain types of fireworks or time limits for setting them off, your city’s mandates must be obeyed. Purchasing or using fireworks in violation of state or municipal law could result in fines, infractions and even jail time in Kentucky.

It is important to know that individuals under the age of 18 are not allowed to purchase fireworks. If someone under the age of 18 uses or wishes to purchase fireworks, he or she must be supervised by a parent or guardian. Individuals under the age of 18 are prohibited from using fireworks.  Individuals under the age of 18 are also not allowed to sell fireworks.  

For safety reasons, particular fireworks are not allowed to be used within 200 feet of any structure, motor vehicle, or another person. To put this in perspective, you must be able to light a firework and run 66 yards, or two-thirds of a football field, before the firework goes off.

When purchasing fireworks, make sure the dealer is properly licensed. 

If an person of any age is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she is prohibited from selling or buying fireworks

Paducah’s Code of Ordinances allows the sale of fireworks that leave the ground, explode, or have a report; however, they are not allowed to be discharged within the city limits due to the density of homes and other structures.  The city of Paducah allows ground and handheld sparkling fireworks to be used, but several types of fireworks are not permitted due to the density of housing and structures within city limits.  

The Paducah Fire Department worked with Geographic Information System (G.I.S.) to determine the safe perimeter for fireworks. They plotted a 200-foot radius around every building in Paducah and developed a map to display the proximity of homes and buildings. The map determined that there is such a small proximity between homes and buildings within city limits, that it was too great a risk to allow fireworks in the city limits.  

Louisville strictly prohibits the sale or use of all consumer fireworks with the exception of snakes, smoke devices, sparklers, fountains, wheels and spinners.

Kentucky Fireworks Accidents

Over 44% of fireworks related injuries were burns, primarily to hands and fingers, followed by head, face, ears and eyes.   Most fireworks burn at extreme heat due to their materials so it doesn’t take much to cause burns or injuries.  In recent years, Kentucky has unfortunately seen a significant increase in fireworks injuries and deaths.  

In 2021 a Hopkinsville man died after a mortar-type firework he was holding went off.  Even the professionals who manage municipal shows or our first responders who are aware of the risks and take precaution can still get injured.  In 2021, three individuals in Greensburg received burns and shrapnel wounds when fireworks in the city’s July 4th show went off prematurely   That same year 2 firefighters in Martin were injured by fireworks during the city’s Independent Day fireworks show. 

Nationally, NHL goalie Mattis Kivlenieks died of chest trauma from an errant fireworks mortar blast in 2021. Police have said the firework tilted slightly and started to fire toward people nearby. Kivlenieks was in a hot tub and was trying to move out of the way of the firework when he was struck.  NFL linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul became an advocate for fireworks safety after almost blowing his right hand off during a fireworks accident in 2015.  in 2014 a chief meteorologist in Detroit lost vision in his left eye after a July 4th fireworks accident.  

Permitted and Prohibited Fireworks in Kentucky

Sparklers are the most common fireworks, but they burn at about 1,200 degrees.  That’s hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet. According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries.

In Kentucky the following fireworks are permitted:

  • sparklers
  • smoke and punk
  • fountains
  • novelties
  • crack and strobe
  • wheels and spinners

The following fireworks are prohibited and can be purchased with a permit only:

  • firecrackers
  • bottle rockets
  • skyrockets
  • roman candles
  • missiles
  • parachutes
  • sky flyers
  • display shells
  • aerial items (cakes)

    Always ask your city or county about firework laws in your area as many restrict the use of fireworks.

    Firework Safety Tips from the Bryant Law Center

    1. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.  
    2. Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper.  This is often a sign that fireworks were made for professional displays only.
    3. Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. 
    4. Have someone else supervise the children to make sure they are a safe distance away from fireworks.
    5. When lighting fireworks, wear eye protection and protect your ears with earplugs. Do not wear loose fitting clothing and tie back long hair. Make sure the area you are lighting fireworks is not dry and easily flammable.
    6. Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. 
    7. Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy in case of a fire or other mishap.  
    8. Light one firework at a time and if a firework malfunctions, do not light it.
    9. Never point fireworks at another person and do not carry fireworks in your pocket.
    10. Only purchase fireworks from a licensed retailer. It is important to purchase new fireworks each season and never use outdated fireworks.
    11. Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.  

    After using fireworks, soak them in water and leave in a trash can away from anything flammable. Always keep water nearby when using fireworks in the case of an accident.

    Put Animals Inside

    More animals run away on July 4th than any other day of the year due to the loud booms and percussive sounds.  They’ve even been known to jump electric fences in a frantic attempt to escape the loud noses.  Check with your vet if you have a pet with a fear of thunderstorms and fireworks to see what you can do to help ease their anxiety.  And remember for few weeks, it’s a good idea to keep the dogs indoors at night.

    While the Bryant Law Center encourages you to leave fireworks to the professionals, we also know that fireworks are a tradition in our state.  We hope you have fun celebrating with family and friends this Independence Day weekend.  Please stay safe and legal!