Firework Safety


As Independence Day approaches, Americans across the country look forward to celebrating our nation’s freedom with barbeques, parades, and of course, fireworks. While fireworks can add a magical touch to the festivities, they also pose a great danger if not handled properly. Each year, thousands of people are injured in firework-related accidents, with injuries of varying severities. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2023, “eight deaths and an estimated 9,700 injuries involving fireworks” were reported.


The following are 10 ways you can ensure your safety and the safety of others this Independence Day when handling fireworks. 

  1. Know the Law
    1. Before purchasing or using fireworks, make sure you know the local laws and regulations regarding fireworks. Firework laws vary by state and even by county, so it’s important to know what’s legal in your area. Check if there are any restrictions on the types of fireworks that can be used and whether a permit is required. When purchasing fireworks, ensure that you only purchase from a licensed or permitted business. Retailers selling fireworks typically need to obtain a license or permit from the state or local government. Violating firework laws can result in various consequences, depending on the state our county, such as fines, confiscation of illegal fireworks, and other penalties. 
  2. Prepare Your Pets
    1. During firework displays, keep pets indoors to protect them from the noise and potential harm. Close windows and doors to reduce the sound of fireworks. Create a comfortable, quiet space for your pet with familiar items like their bed, toys, and blankets. Consider playing calming music or using white noise to help mask the sound of fireworks. Ensure pets have up-to-date identification tags and are microchipped in case they get scared and run away. 
  3. Supervise Children
    1. Never allow children to handle fireworks. Educate children about the dangers of fireworks and establish clear safety rules. Explain why the should never touch, light, or play with fireworks. Even sparklers, which may seem harmless, can burn at temperatures of up to 2,000°F. Ensure that children are always supervised by a responsible adult when near fireworks. One of the best ways to deter children from displaying dangerous behavior when handling fireworks is for adults to demonstrate safe behavior to set a good example. Children often repeat behaviors they have seen or heard. 
  4. Follow Firework Instructions
    1. Choose a clear, open area away from buildings, trees, dry grass, and other flammable materials. Have a bucket of water, a hose, or a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies. Ensure that the ground is level to prevent fireworks from tipping over. Finally, follow all instructions listed on the outer packaging of fireworks for safe use. 
  5. Never Use Fireworks Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
    1. The consumption of alcohol while handling fireworks significantly increases the risk of accidents and injuries due to impaired judgement and coordination. Individuals under the influence are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as lighting fireworks in unsafe conditions, holding fireworks in their hands, or aiming them in an unsafe direction. Intoxicated individuals may not seek immediate medical attention for minor injuries, which can lead to more serious complications. 
  6. Always Keep a Bucket of Water Nearby in Case of Emergency
    1. Fireworks cause over 19,500 fires annually, including structure fires, vehicle fires, and outdoor fires, so keeping a bucket of water nearby for small fires, burns, and wayward fireworks can come in handy. Firework injuries require immediate medical attention, placing additional strain on emergency services, especially during busy periods like Independence Day. With delayed response times from emergency services on holidays, keeping a bucket of water nearby can make the difference in saving someone’s life or extinguishing a fire. 
  7. Never Throw Fireworks at or Near Anyone
    1. Throwing fireworks at or near people or animals can cause severe burns, blast injuries, hearing damage, clothing ignition, physical and psychological trauma. The potential for severe injury, trauma, legal repercussions, and strain on emergency services makes it imperative to handle fireworks with the utmost care and respect. 
  8. Light Fireworks One at a Time and Stand Back
    1. Light fireworks one at a time, and then move back quickly to a safe distance. Never lean over fireworks when lighting them. Use a long-handled lighter to keep your body as far from the fireworks as possible. Leaning over firework explosions can cause severe eye injuries, including burns, lacerations, and even blindness. Even a small piece of debris can cause permeant damage to the eyes, leading to partial or complete loss of vision. 
  9. Wait for Fireworks to Cool Completely Before Disposing
    1. After the fireworks have finished burning, douse them with plenty of water before throwing them away. You may even consider soaking any debris that might contain unburnt or partially burnt materials in water and then disposing of them in a sealed plastic bag with your regular trash. This ensures that there are no remaining embers that could cause a fire. Do not dispose of fireworks by burning them in a fire pit, fireplace, or barbeque grill. This can cause dangerous explosions or release toxic fumes. Some communities offer special disposal programs or drop-off locations for fireworks, especially around holidays like Independence Day. It is recommended you take advantage of these services for safe firework disposal if they are available in your area. 
  10. Never Try to Re-light Dud Fireworks
    1. A dud firework is a firework that fails to ignite or explode as intended after being lit. If a firework fails to ignite, do not attempt to relight it. Wait at least twenty minutes and then soak it in water before disposing of it. This ensures they are no longer at risk of sudden ignition. After soaking, wrap the soaked fireworks in plastic or several layers of newspaper to keep them contained and then place them in a sealed plastic bag. Duds can still be highly dangerous, so handle them with extreme caution. 

While fireworks can be an exciting enhancement to any celebration, they come with substantial risks that should not be underestimated. By understanding these dangers and educating our children about the risks that fireworks pose, we can all work to reduce the likelihood of firework accidents. Together we can guarantee a safer and more enjoyable Independence Day.