The Fourth of July is an exciting time of year. It’s a time to demonstrate our love of our country. It’s also a time to celebrate with family, friends, and let loose a little. The most exciting way to let loose is with a colorful and downright explosive fireworks display. The operative word being EXPLOSIVE.
Of course, there is some danger that comes with such displays. Fire ain’t in the word firework for nothing. That’s why we’ve created a list of tips of how NOT to burn down your house—and virtually everything else—this Independence Day.
1. Don’t light fireworks inside the house.
Honestly, this should be pretty obvious, but the first casualty of any holiday gathering is usually common sense.
That said, the American Pyrotechnics Association states you should only use fireworks outdoors, away from buildings, and on a flat surface free from debris. That means that your backyard full of last autumn’s dry and graying leaves is probably a bad place to set off a roman candle. You’re safer setting off fireworks on the surface of the moon where there’s nothing to catch and where the vacuum of space swallows the incessant popping sounds.
2. Keep spectators at a safe distance. This includes your furry friends!
Because fireworks are basically tiny bombs, keeping viewers at a safe distance will ensure no one gets shocked, burned, or blasted into space. This also means you should never point fireworks at someone or attach them to any part of your body. Unfortunately, fireworks don’t function like rockets. You can’t make a DIY jetpack out of a couple of roman candles, even though it would be really cool if you could.
You should also keep any furry friends on leashes. Sure, cats probably don’t care about your carefully crafted fireworks display. They probably want to curl up under a bed somewhere and sleep through it. But dogs are a different story. It’s not Fido’s fault that roman candles look like the perfect fetch stick. That’s why it’s your job to make sure Fido stays far away from fiery temptation.
3. Only use fireworks legal in your state.
As of 2018, only one state in the United States banned consumer fireworks: sorry Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Illinois, Ohio, and Vermont have strict restrictions on fireworks, allowing consumers to only purchase sparklers and other novelty items. Most other states, while they vary greatly, have a variety of different laws and restrictions on consumer fireworks. Cities, too, also have their own restrictions. Make sure you look up what your local firework restrictions are before setting off any Catherine wheels or bamboo cannons.
It should go without saying, but don’t break the law for your holiday fun. Lots of cities and communities offer free fireworks displays that are safer and probably a lot more interesting than the bootleg bottle rocket you made in your mom’s basement.
4. Light fireworks responsibly. That means lay off the sauce.
Young children should never handle fireworks. The same goes for your friend or family member who has been partying too hard all night long.
The most responsible friend or family member should be the one handling the fireworks. If you let the family black sheep light them up, there’s a chance that they’ll get a “genius” idea and try to light a whole stack of bottle rockets at once. This is ill-advised and very well may make the family black sheep the family blackened sheep.
5. Keep a reliable water source on hand and clean up after you’re done.
How do you put out a firework? Come on, you know the answer to this. It’s not rocket science. Though it is BOTTLE rocket science.
WATER! Always keep a hose or bucket of water on hand in the case of emergencies. And like a campfire, used fireworks should be doused or submerged in water before being disposed of. You should also put fireworks in a plastic bag before placing them in a closed trash can. That way they won’t be at risk of possibly sparking anything flammable in your trash can.
There are a lot of tips here, but really, there’s only one golden rule. BE SAFE.
Like IKEA furniture, all you have to do is follow the directions on the package. You wouldn’t shove a naked flame in your pants, so why do it with a sparkler? And when in doubt, just go see public fireworks. Leave the elaborate displays to the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to the professionals.