Summer means a lot of things to a lot of people. Some of us spend our weekends at the cabin with friends and family. Others live the patio life after work on every nice night.
If we’re lucky, we can cram all of the seasonal things we love into the few warm months, so many of us get each year. No matter what we get into, most of us fit fireworks somewhere into our summers.
While it’s fun to gather around the bright lights and loud sounds, we can get into trouble if we don’t follow firework safety precautions. So, how can you be safe around fireworks?
Basic Firework Safety
Safety around fireworks is a must. Thousands of people are sent to the hospital each year with injuries sustained in fireworks accidents, and none of us wants to be added to that list.
Here are some fireworks safety tips you can use to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.
Leave the display to the professionals
The simplest way to stay safe during a fireworks display is to view displays produced by professionals. Given the potential dangers of home use, attending professional displays is always your safest bet.
These pros go to great lengths to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
There’s also no cleanup, and professional shows are usually much better than something we can pull off at home with store-bought fireworks. Still, some people prefer the home show.
Use locally legal fireworks
If you decide to throw together a fireworks show of your own, the first thing you should do is check your local regulations. Each state has different laws regarding which types of fireworks are legal, and there may even be temporary regulations due to things like wind or drought.
An easy way to identify fireworks you should stay away from is brown paper packaging. The types of fireworks with this type of packaging are intended for professional use and should never be set off by amateurs.
Also, if the fireworks aren’t sold in your home state, they are likely illegal. Many people who live near borders run into trouble when the fireworks they purchased in one state are displayed in the next.
Don’t allow kids to handle fireworks
Kids don’t inherently know how to be safe around fireworks, so it’s up to us to teach them. They don’t know what components of a firework are designed for safety vs. those that are designed to blow up or burn.
Even things people might think are okay for kids, like sparklers, can burn at a couple of thousand degrees fahrenheit, so all fireworks should be treated with respect and caution.
If you do allow older kids and adolescents to handle fireworks, they should be supervised at all times and understand the dangers and firework safety protocols they should follow.
Allow enough room for your display
Fireworks should always be given room to breathe. Setting them off in confined quarters is a recipe for someone getting hurt.
Many people don’t know how much room they need, so what is the recommended safety zone around fireworks? It depends on what type of fireworks you are working with.
Firework safety guidelines
Firework safety guidelines are different for ground-based items and fountains than fireworks that fly through the air.
You should give yourself 35 feet of clearance for items that will stay on the ground and 150 feet for aerial fireworks. Giving yourself enough distance is an important step in preventing fires and injury.
If you want to practice extra precaution, you can treat items in the area with fire retardant coatings and paint. If you like to light fireworks in the same area at your cabin each year, it couldn’t hurt to use things like fire retardant paint on decks and structures nearby.
By knowing what should be kept away from lit fireworks, you can ensure your day at the lake doesn’t end in the emergency room.
Safely lighting fireworks
Many injuries occur when fireworks are being lit. The flames can shoot out in unpredictable directions, and so can flying fireworks like bottle rockets. You could get burned or sustain eye injuries if you aren’t careful. These injuries are preventable as long as you use caution when lighting your fireworks. So, what are some safety precautions to take with igniting fireworks?
When lighting fireworks, you should limit them to one person lighting one firework at a time. Keep your distance by using a punk, which is a smoldering stick that looks like an incense stick, instead of a lighter or match. Not only does it give you an increased distance from the fireworks you are lighting, but it doesn’t use an open flame, which minimizes the risk of accidents.
It’s also recommended that you wear eye protection when igniting fireworks. Numerous emergency room visits each year are caused by the person lighting the fireworks taking one to the eye. Even if you aren’t lighting aerial fireworks, sparks can do serious damage, so protect yourself by always wearing eye protection.
If a firework fails to ignite, never attempt to relight it. Sometimes they will unexpectedly go off even after you’ve decided it was a dud. Let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes to make sure it doesn’t come back with a second life. Once you feel certain, it’s not going to go, drop it in water and dispose of it properly.
Keep water handy
Even if you’ve taken every precaution, mistakes can happen. You don’t want a simple mistake to become a large fire. Keep a bucket of water or hose nearby to douse any potential flames.
The bucket is a great way to go because you can drop your spent sparklers and fireworks in it, and you can still use it to extinguish any fires if the need arises.
Disposing of fireworks safely by soaking your duds and spent fireworks before throwing them in the trash will prevent any trash fires from ruining your weekend.
A final note
You can spend all the time in the world researching firework safety facts, but if your actions aren’t sufficient to mitigate the dangers of fireworks, facts don’t matter all that much.
The most important part of firework safety is that you remain mindful and vigilant while using fireworks at home or the lake. Pair that with a strong preparation game, and you and your family can enjoy the biggest shows of summer safely.