13 Fireworks Safety Guidelines
Fireworks create a beautiful spectacle, but they can also be dangerous. It’s often best to skip the at-home display and enjoy a professional show instead. Still, if you choose to set off your own fireworks, follow these guidelines to keep your home, family, and pets safe.
- Keep it legal. Many states don’t allow aerial fireworks, and some only permit simple items like sparklers and firecrackers. Other states prohibit fireworks in all forms. If they’re forbidden in your area, don’t set them off!
- Only light fireworks in a flat, open space, such as bare dirt, sand, concrete, or stone. Avoid places with trees, grass, and nearby buildings.
- Be considerate of others. Avoid lighting fireworks if you suspect the noise could bother nearby neighbors, veterans, or pets.
- Set up a safety perimeter between the spectators and the launch zone. For ground-based fireworks, stay at least 35 feet away. For aerial fireworks, keep people 150 feet back.
- Wait for the right weather conditions. If it’s windy, postpone your fireworks display.
- Be prepared for accidental fires by keeping a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby.
- After lighting the fuse, get as far away as possible before the firework explodes. Standing too close could result in burns, lacerations, or loss of limb. Some injuries could be fatal.
- Pace yourself—light only one firework at a time. Legal fuses must burn for at least three seconds, but if you attempt to light more than one, your escape window is even shorter.
- Dispose of spent fireworks in a bucket of water, not a trash can. This prevents the charred remains from reigniting and creating a safety hazard.
- Don’t attempt to relight duds. If a firework doesn’t go off, let it sit for five to 10 minutes before approaching it. Then, submerge it in a bucket of water to disarm it permanently.
- Never allow unsupervised children to light fireworks. And remember, touching a lit sparkler can cause third-degree burns, so watch your kids closely.
- Don’t combine alcohol and fireworks. If you set off fireworks while drinking, you could put yourself and others at risk with your slow reaction time, poor coordination, and decreased ability to judge situations wisely.
- Leave it to the professionals. Even if fireworks are permitted in your area, you may enjoy attending a professional show. The display is more impressive, the cost to the public is usually free, and you don’t have to worry about injuries or property damage.
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