Happy Fourth of July! If you’re anything like us, you’re looking forward to spending time with friends and family, maybe a backyard party, and – of course – fireworks at the end of the night. Your safest (and most fun!) bet is to enjoy the public display in your community, but if you’re planning on having a show of your own, read on for our best fireworks safety tips.
Make Sure It’s Legal
First and most importantly, follow the laws and regulations about fireworks where you live. Here in Virginia, most fireworks are illegal. Even those that are legal statewide might not be permitted in certain cities or counties; for example, Henrico and Chesterfield Counties prohibit the use of any fireworks, including sparklers. Using illegal fireworks will lead to a pricey fine and possibly even jail time. Check with your local fire or police department to find out what the laws are in your area.
Keep Kids and Pets Safe
One in every four people involved in a firework accident is a child younger than 15. It should go without saying, but don’t let young children play with or light fireworks. Even sparklers are dangerous in little hands – they can burn up to 2000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt metal. If everyone at the party has sparklers, let kids join in the fun by holding a glow stick or a pinwheel. Whatever fireworks you choose to use, make sure both you and your kids are a safe distance away from them once they’re lit. Bystanders can be injured, too.
Fireworks and pets are a bad combination. Loud noises can be frightening to them, which could cause them to get spooked and run away. If you know that your pet doesn’t like loud noises – for example, if they get scared during thunderstorms – make sure that they have a safe place to spend the night. Keep them indoors and watch them closely if the party’s at your house, and put them in a closed room or crate if you’re going somewhere else. Leave them with their favorite toys, or maybe an article of clothing that smells like you. It won’t take all their fear away, but it will comfort them.
You’ve made sure that fireworks are legal in your area, and your kids and pets are out of harm’s way. It’s time for the show! Follow these simple guidelines to make sure that your fireworks display goes safely and smoothly.
- Before you begin, make sure you have all the safety items you need on hand. Some good choices include protective eyewear, a garden hose or bucket of water for any fires that may start, and a fire extinguisher.
- Don’t drink alcohol if you’ll be using fireworks later that night. Impairment can lead to an injury.
- Point them away from people and houses, as well as anything that may be flammable.
- Don’t put any part of your body over a firework or hold a firework in your hand while lighting the fuse, and back away immediately after you light it.
- Light fireworks one at a time.
- Never re-light or pick up a firework that didn’t go off. They are still active and could ignite at any time.
- Wait 15 to 20 minutes before beginning to clean up. The fireworks need to cool down before you handle them.
Clean It Up
Afterward, make sure all fireworks and debris are disposed of safely. A hose or bucket of water is good to have around for this task. Soak all fireworks – whether they were used, unused, or didn’t go off – in a bucket of water before throwing them away. This ensures that they are fully extinguished and won’t start a fire. Double bag them using plastic bags and place them in a trash can that is outdoors. Make sure that your yard, driveway, or wherever you lit the fireworks is free of any debris that pets could eat or young children could try to play with. You might miss things in the dark, so do a second clean-up the next day.