Tips for Having a Safe Fireworks Display

The safest and most effective way to prevent firework-related injuries and deaths is to leave all fireworks displays to trained professionals. If these professionals are unavailable for your firework displays the following safety tips will help keep you and your audience safe.

Only adults should use fireworks.

The vast majority of firework-related injuries happen to children under the age of 15. Understanding the risks fireworks pose to children and the importance of having adults present to handle fireworks can greatly decrease injuries and deaths.

Follow federal and state firework laws.

Every state has unique rules and regulations concerning the use, possession, and distribution of all types of fireworks. Knowing the laws in your state can keep you safe, prevent fines, and protect you from purchasing unsafe or illegal fireworks. The following link contains updated laws for every state concerning fireworks.

Use fireworks in clear, open areas

Make sure the area being used is clear of any obstructions. Also, make sure the area where fireworks are used is clear of dry, potentially flammable grass, wood, or debris. It is also a good idea to monitor your state’s wildfire warnings and make sure there isn’t a fire weather watch in effect. These warnings occur during extended periods of dry weather and higher-than-average wind speeds. During these conditions, lighting fireworks could lead to potentially lethal wildfires. For more information regarding wildfire warnings visit the USDA Forest Service Page.

Light fireworks on flat surfaces.

Using a flat surface is extremely important when using fireworks. If the area where you are using fireworks is too uneven, there is the potential they could tip over and go off horizontally and severely injure someone. Flat surfaces are also important when using fireworks that take off vertically, like bottle rockets. If the area is too uneven they could have an angled trajectory which could result in an injury to a person, property damage, or fires.

Have fire extinguishers ready.

Have water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. When using fireworks, there should be at least one person assigned the duty of operating the fire extinguisher in case something should go wrong.

Store and dispose of fireworks safely.

Do not store fireworks for extended periods of time and use as soon after purchase as possible. When storing fireworks, keep them in a cool dry place out of the reach of children.

Once a firework is used it should be allowed to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Once this period of time is over it should be placed in a bucket of water to soak thoroughly. After the rest period and soak period they can be safely disposed of in a regular trash receptacle. Both of these steps are important because if fireworks are not soaked properly there is a potential for heat to be trapped inside of them and they can reignite and cause trash fires. Also, use caution when cleaning up debris from used fireworks since certain parts may still be extremely hot, combustible, or sharp.

Know how to handle firework duds.

If a firework malfunctions, do not attempt to relight it. Allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes and then safely douse it with water and let sit for another 15 to 20 minutes. After this period of time submerge the firework in water and allow it to soak. Once the firework is completely soaked it is safe to dispose.

Light fireworks carefully.

When lighting a firework it is recommended to use an extended butane lighting device, extended match, or some device that provides the maximum distance between the wick and you. Also, always light the wick at the very top and never light the wick in the middle or the bottom.

Once lit, keep your distance.

Once fireworks are safely lit it is important to stand a safe distance away before, during, and after the launch. Do not lean over fireworks or stand too closely. It is also important to keep a safe distance away in case the firework is a dud or malfunctions since in some of these instances there will be a delayed launch. It is recommended that all spectators be 30 feet away from all fountain style fireworks or anything that emits sparks. For all aerial fireworks, like mortars or bottle rockets, it is recommended that spectators be 100 yards away.

Do not experiment with fireworks.

A significant number of injuries and deaths associated with fireworks come from tampering with the original design of the firework. Occasionally individuals will combine the explosive material from inside fireworks in an attempt to create larger, more powerful fireworks. This is extremely dangerous and often leads to unpredictable and hazardous results.

Fireworks and celebrations go together. Remember, fireworks can cause serious burn and eye injuries. Find out how to prevent these injuries.

Fireworks are synonymous with our celebration of Independence Day. Yet, the thrill of fireworks can also bring pain. On average, 180 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.

Remember, fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries. You can help us prevent fireworks-related injuries and deaths. How? By working with a national, state or local organization where you live to promote fireworks safety in your community.

Follow these safety tips when using fireworks:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.

  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.

  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Firework Injury Statistics

  • Every year almost 10,000 people are treated in emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries. The estimated cost of the injuries exceeds $100 million dollars annually.

  • Over 2/3 of all fireworks injuries occur between June 16 and July 16

  • 72% of all fireworks injuries are to males.

  • Most fireworks injuries occur to the face (12%), eyes (17%), and hands (34%).

  • Fires caused by fireworks injure 50 and kill 15 people on average annually.