10 fireworks safety tips for the 4th of July (or any time of the year)

Stay safe while using fireworks.

The Fourth of July is here, and with it, lots and lots of fireworks. Georgia recently legalized fireworks, so you might be thinking about putting on a display to celebrate Independence Day. Yes, fireworks are part of the Fourth of July deal, but they’re also very dangerous. It’s important not to underestimate the damage that they can do. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 250 people go the emergency room for firework-related injuries every day in the month surrounding July 4th.

But guess what? We’ve got some tips that you can follow to help you stay safe this Fourth of July.

Tip #1. Keep the pyrotechnics outside.

Set fireworks off outdoors and make sure to choose your location wisely. That means staying away from things that are flammable, including people, homes, and trees or bushes.

Tip #2. Have water on hand.

Just in case things get out of control, it’s a good idea to have some water handy. Have either some buckets or a hose that’s ready to go nearby.

Tip #3. Carry and set off fireworks intelligently.

Okay, a few basic rules for handling the pyrotechnics:

  • Don’t carry them in your pockets.
  • Don’t set them off from a metal or glass container – bad idea.
  • Light them one at a time.
  • Never place any piece of your body over the device while you’re lighting it.
  • Back up to a safe distance after lighting.
  • After they’re done burning, dump a lot of water on the used devices before you throw them away.

Tip #4. Use the fireworks as they’re meant to be used.

In other words, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t deviate from the instructions or try and make your own. And don’t combine fireworks for a bigger boom – that’s just not a good idea.

Be sure to follow the safety instructions on your fireworks.

Tip #5. Keep the audience at bay.

Make sure that the people who come to admire the pretty lights are a safe distance away. Also, make sure that they don’t get too close to the debris.

Tip #6. Wear goggles.

Eyes are sensitive. Fireworks can be especially dangerous for your eyesight, so make sure that you’re wearing come protective eyewear when handling and setting them off.

Tip #7. Don’t drink and fireworks.

Not only is this the law, it’s also just common sense. Alcohol and things that explode don’t mix.

Tip #8. Don’t try to force a dud to light.

If there’s a firework that just won’t light (a dud) don’t try to relight if after it doesn’t work the first time. Give it about twenty minutes, then dunk it in water.

Be sure to handle fireworks safely.

Tip #9. Don’t let small children near the sparklers.

Sparklers burn at almost 2000˚F. That’s really hot – hot enough to melt some metals. Small kiddos shouldn’t handle sparklers, and you need to supervise very carefully if there are older kids using them. Set some ground rules for sparkler fun, too – no running, throwing, chasing, etc.

Another note – don’t let the kids pick up the remains of the devices after the show. These could still be flammable or liable to explode.

Tip #10. Make sure you’re respecting all relevant rules and laws.

This includes the type of fireworks you set off. First of all, don’t use professional-grade fireworks. Stick to the ones meant for consumers. Also, make sure that you use legal ones, which are labeled with the manufacturer’s brand name and include instructions. Illegal fireworks typically aren’t labeled.  M-80s, M-100s, quarterpounders, and blockbusters are all illegal. Steer clear. Do not use.

There are also certain restrictions on where you can set off fireworks and what time of day. For more details on the applicable laws, visit this Georgia Gov blog article. For the Fourth of July, you can only set off fireworks until midnight. Also keep in mind that your specific neighborhood or city could have its own ordinances about fireworks, so don’t ignore those.

Bonus: Tip #11. Think about your pets.

If you’re going to have a show near your home, make sure you keep your pets safe. The loud noises could scare them, so make sure that they’re comfortable in an interior room of your house. Don’t bring pets to the display. They don’t understand why things are suddenly going boom, so they might not like it too much. You don’t want them to run away because they get spooked.

Don't forget that your pets might get scared because of the fireworks.

Bottom line: fireworks are dangerous.

Stay safe while you celebrate the Fourth of July, and take extra care if your patriotic plans involve a firework display. It might be best to leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals. Plus, it’s a lot less work to kick back and enjoy the show rather than putting it on yourself!