The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate our nation’s independence. It’s also a time of tradition. It’s a time when we gather with friends and family, have a barbecue—and of course—watch fireworks.
While there are often professional fireworks shows we could go watch, many of us like to buy our own fireworks and put on a private show at home. However, not all of us take the time to educate ourselves about the necessary safety precautions before we start operating such explosives.
Maybe you think lighting fireworks is self-explanatory. Or maybe you have the misconception that you’re immune from accidents because you’re an adult with basic common sense. However, for many people across the country, fireworks mishaps lead to tragedy. In 2016, accidents from amateur fireworks displays resulted in 11,000 hospitalizations.
Before you put on your fireworks show this year, here are some safety tips you should know:
Clear the area.
You should only set off fireworks in an open area. The area you aim the fireworks should be free of other buildings, people, animals or anything flammable. It’s also important to keep a safe distance from any children while handling fireworks.
Explosive materials are hard to control. Be prepared to protect yourself and take immediate action if things get out of control. Before the show, prepare two buckets of water—in case of a fire. If possible, also have a garden hose or fire extinguisher available. Always wear protective eye gear when lighting fireworks.
Only light one firework at a time, and never try to re-light a dud. Gather any debris or shells the fireworks may have left strewn around.
If you have any remaining unlit fireworks or fireworks that didn’t ignite completely, these still pose a major safety hazard. It’s critical to dispose of these properly. Dunk these fireworks in a bucket of water, and let them soak overnight. Then wrap them twice in plastic wrap or plastic bags to make sure they don’t dry out. Now you can put them in the garbage as usual.
The Fourth of July is a joyful time. Following the above guidelines can help ensure it stays that way.