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Have a Great Time at Your Own Home Fireworks Show
Have a Great Time at Your Own Home Fireworks Show
Fireworks can be a lot of fun, and they’re a great way to make summer memories with family and friends. But is it really safe and legal to let off fireworks at home?
Yes! In most states, it’s perfectly legal to buy most kinds of consumer fireworks and light them off at home. Only one state, Massachusetts, outright bans the sale of consumer fireworks, and only a few states ban aerial fireworks. In most of the country, you can host an impressive home fireworks demonstration, as long as you have plenty of space and the right safety equipment. Here’s what you need to know to enjoy fireworks safely with your family.
Aerial Fireworks Need a Lot of Room
The one thing that holds a lot of people back from hosting home fireworks displays is the sheer amount of space needed to safely ignite aerial fireworks, like the bottle rockets, mortars, aerial shells, and other aerials you can buy online from retailers like Red Apple Fireworks, or pick up in a local fireworks tent.
Aerial fireworks release their breaks high up in the sky. Hot debris can fall over an area of 30 square feet or more. If there are structures, overhead wires, trees and shrubs, piles of flammable debris, or other fire hazards in the fallout zone, hot sparks falling from the break could ignite them.
Some aerial fireworks may fly more than 100 feet into the air, which isn’t a problem if everything’s working properly, but it can quickly become an issue if fireworks aren’t stablized and the pyrotechnic falls over or tilts to the side during ignition. If an aerial firework tips over, it can fire its breaks directly into your audience if they’re not at a safe distance.
To keep your audience safe from firework mishaps, make sure they’re one-and-a-half times as far from the firing line as the height of your highest-flying aerial firework. Make sure you have a clear and unobstructed fallout zone in front of your firing line, and that it’s big enough to accommodate any falling debris.
Firework Injuries Are Common
About 15,600 people sought emergency medical care due to fireworks injuries in 2020, and about 11,500 people sustained fireworks injuries in 2021. Fireworks are explosives, after all, and they should be treated with an appropriate amount of respect.
To keep your home fireworks show safe, treat your fireworks with respect. Don’t horse around with them, and don’t let anyone who has been drinking ignite them. It’s best if only one person at the party is lighting off the fireworks. That will minimize the risk to everyone else.
You (or the person who will be lighting the fireworks) should also take precautions to protect yourself from injury. Wear boots or shoes with closed toes, long sleeves, long pants, and a hat with a brim (or a baseball cap turned backwards so the bill can protect your neck). Put on safety goggles while you’re lighting off fireworks – people often sustain injuries to the face and eyes when leaning over a firework to ignite it. You should stand to one side and lean away from the pyrotechnic while you’re lighting it. Use one of those long grill lighters to put even more space between yourself and the explosive.
Kids Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Play with Fireworks
You would think this would go without saying, but plenty of people still hand their toddlers sparklers or give their older children firecrackers to set off. Sparklers can burn at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is plenty hot enough to seriously injure a small child or anyone who grabs the wrong end of the sparkler. Keep all fireworks and novelties out of the hands of children.
Fireworks Can Start Fires
The hot sparks that fly out of fireworks can easily ignite grass, dead leaves, wood piles, and other flammables. You need to be prepared to put out fires and ready to extinguish spent fireworks so that they don’t continue smoldering. You also need to make sure your fireworks are securely anchored in place so that they don’t fall over and fire burning materials at you, the audience, or other things that can be burned.
Keep a fire extinguisher or a source of water, like a garden hose, handy while you’re setting off fireworks. Soak spent pyrotechnics so they don’t smolder and cause a fire later when you aren’t paying attention. To keep your fireworks securely anchored, screw them in firing order to a plank or a two-by-eight length of plywood. Bottle rockets, roman candles, and mortars can also be secured by plunging the base into a bucket of sand or lining them up in a homemade mortar firing rack.
Fireworks can be great fun for the whole family. Just make sure you’re using them safely, so your guests leave with lasting memories, not lasting scars.