The 4th of July is almost upon us. With its warm weather and long weekends, July 4th is everyone’s favorite summer holiday. Perhaps the 4th of July is best known for its fun-filled fireworks displays. In the hands of professionals, fireworks can light up the night sky and serve as the perfect ending to a memorable holiday.

In the wrong hands though, fireworks can be a catalyst for tragedy. Remember, the sale, purchase and use of fireworks in Bergen County , and throughout New Jersey , is illegal. Fire departments respond to more fires on this day than almost any other day in the year. Most of these fires start in dry grass and brush, but several houses are destroyed or damaged across the country on July 4th. Every year, nationwide more than $36 million in property damage is caused by fireworks.

Fourth of July festivities are also the cause for numerous burn injuries associated with the misuse or premature detonation of fireworks. The majority of fireworks-related burn injuries involve children. These are usually burns to the eyes and hands causing lost sight and other disfigurements. According to fire officials, sparklers are the biggest danger to children. The temperature at the end of sparklers can reach 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and easily cause severe burns.

Restrictions are placed on fireworks for a reason. It doesn’t matter how big or little fireworks are, they all have the potential to start a major fire. But just because personal fireworks are prohibited doesn’t mean your family has to do without one of the hallmarks of this holiday weekend. Bergen residents should check with your local newspaper or contact your town to find one of several approved, and safe fireworks displays around the County.

The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office urges you to make this 4th of July safe and keep the memories fond. Remember, leave fireworks to the professionals.

Further assistance is available through the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office (201) 336-3500 or on our website at

Sheriff Leo P. McGuire was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2007 to lead the county’s largest law enforcement agency. He resides in Oakland with his wife, Trish, and two daughters.