Fireworks Safety

Despite the excitement that fireworks being to festivities such as the Fourth of July, they are dangerous and their use is often illegal.

The Annual Effect of Fireworks

  • Each year, fireworks cause more than 8,000 injuries.
  • Fireworks result in an average of 20 deaths each year.
  • 25 percent of fireworks-related injuries are to children 14 and under.
  • Fireworks cause $26 million in property damage each year.
  • Annually, fireworks cause more than 24,000 fires.

Explosive devices such as M-80s, M-100s, blockbusters or quarter-pounders are illegal in all states, and have been federally banned since 1966.  These explosive devices do not show the manufacturers name and are3 usually totally unlabeled.

Fireworks Safety Tips

  • Always wear safety glasses when using fireworks.
  • Do not wear loose clothing when using fireworks.
  • An adult should always be present and supervise the use of fireworks.
  • If fireworks are legal in your state, purchase them from a licensed dealer only.  In many states, it is illegal to purchase mail-order fireworks.
  • Read all labels and follow all instructions before lighting fireworks.
  • Use a “punk” (substance that smolders when lighted—used to light fireworks) to ignite the fireworks.  Punks burn without an open flame and provide a greater, safer distance between the hand and the fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time.
  • Have a safe landing zone for aerial fireworks.  Consideration should be given to wind direction and ignitability of everything in the landing zone.
  • Have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water on hand to extinguish an incipient fire.
  • Never use fireworks inside or in a vehicle.
  • Never ignite fireworks while holding them.  Put them down, then ignite them and walk away.
  • Never put fireworks in a container to ignite.
  • Never assume an ignited firework that fails to explode is safe to approach.  A delayed explosion has injured many people.  Any malfunctioning fireworks should be abandoned.
  • Never use fireworks while drinking alcoholic beverages.  The slowness of response and impaired judgment will cause injuries.
  • Never take fireworks apart or mix anything with their contents or make fireworks at home.  The making of an explosive device is a felony.
  • Never ignite aerial fireworks where overhead obstructions (trees, eaves, wires, etc.) may interfere with trajectory into open air space.  
  • Never ignite aerial fireworks near an opening to a building.
  • Do not point or throw fireworks at other people.
  • Do not carry fireworks in your pockets.  If one happens to ignite, severe burns may result.
  • Keep fireworks in a cool dry place, and not inside the home.
  • Always keep spectators a safe distance away.  At least 35 feet for ground items and at least 100 feet for aerial and exploding items.  For fireworks novelties that move on the ground, always be alert and aim them away from spectators.
  • Never place any part of your body (especially your head) over a firework when lighting.
  • Before lighting a firework, make sure it is sturdy and level.
  • Always shoot from a hard, level surface free of debris.
  • Never attempt to relight an item that has malfunctioned or not shot.  Stay clear of the firework until you are sure it is completely out.
  • Do not put devices that explode into metal or glass containers.  Shrapnel can cause serious injuries.
  • Dispose of fireworks only after you are sure they are completely out.  
  • If needed, spray them down with a hose and allow them to cool overnight.  Treat them much as you would a fireplace.

Source:  American Crime Prevention Institute