Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fireworks, Germany and The Critical Mom

About.Com offers the following information regarding New York State Law and fireworks, which, in view of American lack of gun control, strike me as curious:

To begin with, ALL consumer fireworks are banned in New York State (except for those who have a permit. For information on obtaining one, visit Regulations for Pyrotechnics Permits in New York State.) So anywhere in the state, and this obviously includes Long Island, the use of fireworks by those who do not have a permit is strictly illegal.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2010, approximately 8,600 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries that were associated with fireworks. Over half of these injuries were burns, and most of the injuries involved people's heads ---including the face, eyes and ears-- as well as hands, fingers and legs.
Another sobering fact: more than 50 percent of the estimated injuries involved children and young adults under the age of 20.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that among those who were harmed were: a 49-year-old man who was fatally injured in an explosion.

A slightly different tale is told by US, which claims to be able to ship "consumer fireworks" to every state, adding the following regarding New York State--Connecticut has a similar list, incidentally:

Based on the information available to US Fireworks at the time this data was compiled, the following legal requirements are in effect for the State of New York.
  Bottle Rockets: With Local Approval
  Sky Rockets: With Local Approval
  Roman Candles: With Local Approval
  Firecrackers: With Local Approval
  Sparklers: With Local Approval
  Smoke and Punk: With Local Approval
  Fountains: With Local Approval
  Missiles: With Local Approval
  Novelties: Legally Allowed
  Crackle and Strobe: With Local Approval
  Parachutes: With Local Approval
  Wheels and Spinners: With Local Approval
  Sky Flyers: With Local Approval
  Display Shells: With Local Approval
  Aerial Items (Cakes): With Local Approval 

Now, where I live in Germany, the local supermarket stocks all of the above, and we shot most of them off from our backyard on the evening of New Year's Day--the kids had all fallen asleep too soon on New Year's Eve, so my husband shot the candles from an old champagne bottle around eight in the evening and we all had a great time.
We had sparklers too, which we lit and waved around, while dancing and shouting "Expecto patronum!"

You can buy fireworks in Germany AND YOU CANNOT BUY GUNS without more red tape than most people are willing to endure.  You can buy fireworks with no red tape, because German citizens are uniformly careful, and it remains an established, immovable part of Deutsche Kultur to have, read, and follow instructions to the letter.  When, for example, you purchase certain electronic items at Ikea, you read the instructions in the language of your choice.  Sometimes the German language edition of the instructions differs from all of the others; instead of giving you the usual step-by-step self-assembly guide, it instructs you to call the electrician--but that seems to occur only when the German powers that be decide that risks could be taken even considering the loving care most Germans devote to the following of package instructions.  
Germany life tends toward the carefully-regulated; it is less spontaneous than the lively, individualistic culture of the United States.  But who needs a spontaneous guy with a gun?


  1. I know the joy of going to a rooftop and being a witness of this amazing spectacle but I do hope all of us bear safety in mind. I think it's so much better to think that we will have the chance to see beautiful fireworks once again than not being able to.

    -Mischna Ong

  2. Dear Mischna, I love fireworks and I love safety too. What interests me is that here in Germany people can usually be counted on to be very careful with fireworks. In the States there seems to me so much less precaution--and way too many guns.
    Thanks for writing!
    The Critical Mom