Most people celebrate July 4 by watching a local, professional fireworks show — supervised by firefighters. But if you’re starting the performance early with consumer fireworks, here are some tips:
Your fireworks might be legal, but that doesn’t mean they are safe. The National Council on Fireworks Safety and the U.S. Fire Administration report thousands of fireworks-related injuries every year. The biggest threat: firecrackers, followed by bottle rockets and sparklers, which burn at about 2,000 F.
Even tiny sparklers — a favorite of little kids — can reach a staggering 1,800 F, quickly causing dangerous burns even with minor skin contact.
Fireworks are especially dangerous when used near power lines, so stay clear. Light fireworks only in open areas where no power lines can be seen, and call your cooperative immediately if your celebration gets tangled in an overhead wire.
Follow these additional safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
• Children should be spectators, not participants, in the show. Never give children fireworks or sparklers. Buy inexpensive glow sticks or glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets that will stay lighted all night. Battery-operated fiber-optic sparklers will put on a colorful show year after year without the danger of fireworks.
• Check that all fireworks come from a reputable source. Read and carefully follow directions and warning labels. Most injuries result from improper use.
• Keep spectators at least 20 feet away and not downwind from where the fireworks will be set off.
• Light fireworks only on a smooth, flat surface outdoors away from all flammable materials, including dry leaves.
• Never light fireworks in your hands. That includes sparklers.
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
• Light fireworks one at a time and then move quickly to the recommended safe distance.
• Never try to relight fireworks that don’t function.
• Keep a bucket of water nearby in case of fire. Also, use the bucket of water to soak used fireworks for at least 10 minutes after igniting.