Click here to get a free quote

fireworks illustration

Firework Safety Guide:

How to Celebrate Safely

Firework Safety Tips in a Nutshell

Children look adorable with sparklers. But sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so the National Safety Council recommends you don’t let kids anywhere near them. In fact, the council also recommends you don’t go anywhere near them.

But families continue to celebrate July 4th, New Year’s Eve, and Memorial Day with fireworks, and the country probably won’t abandon them soon—if ever.

If you accept the risks and celebrate with a dazzling display in your driveway, these tips can teach you how to use fireworks as safely as possible.

heart icon

Protect Loved Ones

Reduce the risk of injury to yourself, your kids, and your pets.

fire icon

Protect Property

Prevent fires in your home—and your neighbors’ homes.

hand icon

Protect Community

Follow fireworks laws to help protect your neighborhood and city.

woman and child holding firework sparkler

Safety Tips to Keep Yourself Safe

Every firework packs a collection of tiny bombs, so the dangers of fireworks are serious—they can cause property fires, burns, and sometimes cuts from flying pieces. To keep yourself and your spectators safe when you’re the one on the launch pad, follow the tips below.

woman and child holding firework sparkler
  • Buy from licensed manufacturers and dealers.
  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from sparks.
  • Urge your friends and family to sit a safe distance from the fireworks.
  • Move far back from a firework as soon as you light it, or you could get burned.
  • Light only one firework at a time. The more fireworks you light, the higher your chances of getting burned.
  • Light fireworks from the side with a long match or lighter. Never stand or even place your arm directly over a firework. Never hold a lit firework.
  • Keep your wits about you, and be especially careful to avoid alcohol.
  • Don’t shoot fireworks from inside a container, or the pieces could go flying and cut you.
  • Douse all fireworks in water, even if they don’t ignite. Dud fireworks can go off later in whatever garbage can you’re not actively supervising.
  • Avoid professional fireworks at all costs—firework operators have to complete training and license requirements to attempt even their first launch of display fireworks.
kids holding sparkler

Safety Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe

Giving a kid a sparkler exposes them to the same dangers you face when lighting bigger fireworks. Not to mention, children may use less caution than adults and since sparklers burn closer to the holders’ hands and faces, they may burn skin or damage eyes much more quickly.

When you’re deciding whether to let your kids use fireworks, think about each child’s maturity level first.

pet dog hiding under table

Safety Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe

The sights and sounds of fireworks can traumatize animals—they don’t understand that humans use them for fun. Here’s how to keep your pets both physically and emotionally safe during a home fireworks show.

  • If your pets stay outside during the fun, keep them away from active, used, and unused fireworks.
  • Even better, leave your pets inside the house during the show.
  • When they’re safely inside, do all you can to comfort them. Give them a favorite toy and a semi-enclosed space where they can hunker down.

Frequently Asked Questions about Firework Safety

What are the dangers of fireworks?

Injury and fires are the two main dangers of using fireworks. Remind yourself of this short list of fireworks facts before your next show—so you’re more motivated to be careful.

Injury Statistics

  • In 2017, about one-third of estimated injuries happened to children under age 15, and the most frequently injured population was children age 10–14.
  • The most common injuries in 2017 were hand injuries—the same as four years earlier.
  • Also in 2017, 67% of estimated fireworks injuries happened between June 16 and July 16. Around the same month in 2016, 230 people every day got emergency medical attention for fireworks injuries.

Fire Statistics

  • Fireworks start about 18,500 fires annually, and the property damage totals about $43 million.
  • About 2 in 5 fireworks-related fires each year happen on July 4th.

Encouraging Safety Statistics

  • Between 2002 and 2017, Americans used 64.3 million more pounds of fireworks, but injuries treated by emergency departments over that period stayed fairly stable.
  • Fireworks injuries represent just a small number of injuries nationally—baseball injuries, for example, are about ten times more common.
  • Only 4 in every 100,000 Americans are injured by fireworks each year. But remember, that number includes people who don’t use fireworks at all, so your odds are higher if you use them.

How are fireworks made?

Expert chemists make fireworks by combining gunpowder with other explosives. Check out firework construction from the outside in:

  • Label – The decorative holder you see when you buy fireworks. The label doesn’t protect you; it just looks pretty and keeps your hands a little cleaner.
  • Mortar – The protective outer tube that holds all the explosives together and stays on the ground when the firework goes off. The biggest safety precaution taken when creating fireworks, the mortar is not explosive and is usually insulated in dirt to make it even safer.
  • Fast-acting fuse – The inner string and small mound of explosives that sit under the mortar and propel the firework into the sky.
  • Shell – The inner tube, made of gunpowder, that holds the decorative explosives together. The shell bursts after carrying the firework to the right height.
  • Delayed fuse – The inner string that explodes after the shell has already been released into the sky. This fuse keeps fireworks from bursting too close to the ground.
  • “Stars” – The clusters of explosives that make each firework unique. Stars take different shapes, sizes, colors, and visual patterns when they explode depending on the chemicals used and how they’re combined.

What’s the difference between consumer and pro fireworks?

Professional fireworks tend to be much bigger, with many more “stars” inside. Firework designers also can and often do layer smaller fireworks inside large ones to create multiple colors and effects with a single fuse.

What training do professional firework artists have?

The requirements for pro firework artists, or pyrotechnicians, depend on state laws and who employs the artist. But at the very least, their firework safety training includes HazMat (hazardous materials) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) education.

Some employers might require additional training, and member organizations like the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) sometimes give optional seminars.

What fireworks cause the most injuries?

The APA argues that illegal and improperly handled fireworks cause a huge percent of the injuries to home fireworks users.

As for which home fireworks cause the most injuries, CNN reported these numbers from 2018:

  • Firecrackers – 1,000 injuries
  • Sparklers – 500
  • Roman candles – 400
  • Bottle rockets – 200
house on fire icon

Safety Tips to Keep Your Property Safe

To lower your chances of starting a fire with fireworks, follow these tips.

  • Set fireworks on a hard and fully cleared surface far from homes, brush, and grass. The farther, the better.
  • Thoroughly soak used fireworks, overnight or at least for a few hours, so they don’t ignite in the trash.
  • Keep both a bucket of water and a hose on hand. If a firework lights during or after launch, you can use the hose to soak the firework without getting near it.

Safety Tips to Prepare for Potential Fires

It’s not just during the show that fireworks can start fires. Storing leftover fireworks creates a fire hazard—a riskier one than smaller flammable items like rubbing alcohol or hairspray, since fireworks are laced with multiple explosives.

For tip-top firework safety, use all the fireworks you buy or throw out ones you don’t use 
(and don’t forget to soak them first).

firetruck icon

Firework Safety Laws Vary by State

State and local laws vary all across the country. For example, Nevada explicitly outlaws certain types of fireworks but doesn’t address where they can be launched, while Indiana outlaws certain launch sites but not specific types of fireworks.

To check fireworks laws near you, find your state in this regulations list. Then read up to cut down on fireworks hazards in your neighborhood and city.

Fireworks Safety 2019 Checklist

Before the Fireworks

  • Have you checked the fireworks laws in your area?
  • Have you chosen only legal, consumer-grade fireworks?
  • Have you picked a launch site as far away from grass, brush, and homes as possible?
  • Have you chosen someone to light the fireworks who hasn’t been drinking?
  • Have you secured your pets inside the house?
  • Do you have a bucket of water nearby to immediately soak used fireworks?
  • Are kids and other spectators sitting far from the launch site?

During the Fireworks

  • Are adults supervising all children?
  • Are you wearing safety goggles?
  • Are you lighting the fuses from the side?
  • Are you moving to a safe distance immediately after lighting the fuse?
  • Are you avoiding holding the fireworks or standing over them?
  • Are you lighting just one firework at a time?
  • Are you soaking used fireworks immediately?
  • Are you soaking defective fireworks immediately?

After the Fireworks

  • Have you seen a doctor ASAP for any injuries?
  • Have you soaked used fireworks long enough before tossing them?
  • Have you soaked leftover fireworks, or at the very least, stored them away from flammables?
kids watching fireworks

Final Fireworks Safety Tips

Common sense can do a lot to reduce injuries and fire hazards. But there’s one more key tip: review this guide again right before your next home fireworks show. The tips will freshen your memory and help you lower the risks to your family, property, and community.

If you choose to use fireworks this season—safely—enjoy the show.