Every year, thousands of people are injured by fireworks, and thousands more experience a fireworks-related fire. Although these numbers may sound high, the vast majority of fireworks incidents are preventable, caused by simple mistakes. To minimize the risks and ensure that your fireworks show goes off without a hitch, follow these 7 best practices.
1. Create a Perimeter
Many fireworks incidents occur because fireworks are launched in close proximity to people, animals, or structures. Best practices state that you should create a perimeter 500 feet from your launching space. Make sure there are no obstructions, and consider using caution tape or other highly visible barriers to prevent people and animals from crossing into the danger zone.
2. Clear the Space
Within your perimeter boundary, take the time to walk the space during daylight hours. Clear out any leaves or other fire hazards. If the weather has been dry, consider wetting down the area where you will launch the fireworks to minimize the chances for a grass fire. Also clear away any trip hazards such as rocks or stones.
3. Use Safe Handling Techniques
Never point fireworks toward animals, objects, or anyone including yourself. Never try to light a firework in your hands. Store fireworks in a cool, dry location. If you are lighting fireworks by hand, carefully position the firework first and then light it with a long safety lighter. Never try to relight duds.
4. Bring a Fire Extinguisher
Make sure that a fire extinguisher rated for chemical fires is at the ready. Be sure that several people in your group are trained to use it and know exactly where it is. Always err on the side of caution—if anything catches fire, put it out immediately if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, evacuate the area and call 911.
5. Have Water Ready
A bucket of water or a garden hose can be extremely useful. It is important to thoroughly wet duds before disposing of them. Fireworks debris can be hot, so cooling it down with water makes it safer to handle. In addition, sparklers burn at surprisingly high temperatures, close to the temperature required to melt gold. Rather than laying used sparklers down on a table or dropping them straight in the trash, ask everyone to thoroughly douse them in water.
6. Use Only Legal, High-Quality Fireworks
Certain fireworks, such as Cherry Bombs and M-80s, are illegal under federal law. In addition, each state and local area is free to set its own, more-restrictive regulations. Make sure you know and understand the laws that apply to your area, and never attempt to launch illegal fireworks.
Homemade fireworks may or may not be illegal, depending on your jurisdiction, but they are never a smart choice. Neither are low quality fireworks with questionable labeling practices. Always choose only high-quality fireworks from a reliable supplier that you know you can trust. Otherwise, you do not know exactly what you are getting, and the fireworks could behave in unpredictable ways.
Note that certain weather conditions can dramatically increase the risk for fires. At those times, local governments often institute burn bans that may prohibit fireworks displays. Be sure to check for any burn bans or current fireworks prohibitions, even if you know that they are normally allowed.
7. Supervise Children and Pets
Children and pets do not understand the dangers associated with fireworks in the same way that adults do. They are also more likely to be spooked by the light and noise, and to behave erratically when they are frightened. Close pets indoors if possible, or keep them on a short leash. Keep a close eye on children to ensure that they stay behind the perimeter, and teach them safe handling techniques for sparklers. Never let a young child light a firework, and supervise teenagers if they are lighting them.
Fireworks injuries are a genuine hazard, but following the 7 best practices above can dramatically reduce the risks. Although you want to relax and have fun, you should always remember to use common sense.
At Dynamite Fireworks, we don’t only sell top-quality, name-brand fireworks. We also provide the information you need to know to use them responsibly, legally, and safely. If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at (219) 937-4090. We look forward to becoming your one-stop shop for all your fireworks needs!