The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with the all-American tradition of a fireworks display? Many communities offer professional public shows that families can enjoy from blankets on the ground in a park, or presented in a stadium, or over the water. Another option that thousands of American homeowners choose each year is to buy fireworks to set off in the yard for a private show. When done safely, this can be a great way to celebrate; just follow these guidelines to make sure your evening is as safe as it is fun!
Plan Ahead and Set Up
This should go without saying, but be familiar with your local ordinances and only use fireworks that are legal in your area. If fireworks are illegal in your community, find another way to celebrate – it’s just not worth the risk.
Before the festivities begin, while there is still plenty of outdoor light, plan exactly where you will light the fireworks. The area should be flat, clear of any debris, and a good distance from buildings, fences, or flammable materials. Ensure there is plenty of distance between the fireworks and your guests, and that children are carefully watched and restrained, particularly the little ones. Have several buckets of water on hand to extinguish fireworks should something go wrong.
Never allow young children to play with fireworks, even sparklers – while they may seem harmless, sparklers are responsible for 28% of firework-related emergency room visits, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Older children should only be allowed to light fireworks after careful instruction and with close adult supervision. Anyone who interacts with the fireworks must be completely sober and undistracted.
Manufacturers design their products to be as safe as possible when used correctly, so follow all instructions on the packaging. Never combine multiple fireworks, or aim them towards yourself or another person.
The person lighting the firework must wear safety glasses and quickly retreat a safe distance after lighting to avoid injury.
Deal with the Duds
Even with the highest quality products, chances are you’ll experience having at least one “dud” that just fizzles out and won’t go off. It can be tempting to walk back over to it, either to see what went wrong or to attempt to light it again, but doing so is incredibly dangerous. The firework may just be delayed, and could ignite as you approach, causing injury. Fireworks are intended to be lit only once, so relighting a dud can be dangerous – the fuse has already been shortened by the first attempt, leaving less time to move away after relighting it.
If you have a firework that doesn’t go off after being lit, do NOT approach. Instead, leave it undisturbed for 20 minutes to ensure it isn’t still active. Soak the firework in water before discarding it.
Ensure you do not leave any fireworks unattended at the end of the night, as this can present the risk of fire. As your clean up debris, ensure each piece is fully extinguished by dipping the item in the bucket of water, or by spraying it with a hose. The next morning, if you wake up to find scorch marks or stains marring the appearance of your driveway or patio, give our team at COIT a call to remove the stains.