Avoid an Independence Day disaster with these Firework Safety Month tips.

With Independence Day on the horizon, it won’t be long until fireworks light up the night sky across the nation. There may be few things more American than watching the rockets’ red (and blue, green, and gold) glare, but remember that even the smallest sparklers are still explosive – and dangerous – pyrotechnics.

It doesn’t take much to suffer accidental burns from carelessly setting off fireworks, or even watching them from the wrong vantage point. In honor of it being Fireworks Safety Month, here are some tips to make sure your family’s summer firework viewing doesn’t go down in flames.

Finding a Fourth of July Fireworks Display Near You

There are plenty of cities throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania that plan to celebrate Independence Day with a fireworks display. Within a few miles of our office, you’ll find events in:

Find firework displays near your location here.

Many of these events are free. With the shows starting as early as July 2nd, you can get your fill of Independence Day fireworks throughout the long weekend.

8 Tips for Fireworks Safety

1. Leave the fireworks displays to the professionals.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay (public domain).

This is the single most important thing you can do to prevent fireworks accidents. Explosives shouldn’t be a do-it-yourself project. The stakes are too high. In states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the safety hazard is only one part of the problem. Many – if not all – consumer fireworks are illegal.

New Jersey laws currently permit no consumer use of fireworks, the American Pyrotechnics Association reported. (New York, Delaware, and Massachusetts have similar laws.) New Jersey specifically prohibits consumer use of a long list of fireworks types, including firecrackers, torpedoes, and even sparklers.

Pennsylvania law allows consumers to use “ground and hand-held sparkling devices,” “novelties” and “toy caps,” according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, because they “are not considered Consumer Fireworks under Pennsylvania Law.” All other consumer fireworks are illegal in the state. If you live in or will be celebrating in Pennsylvania, make sure to check your local fireworks laws, too, since some municipalities have additional rules.

Pyrotechnicians – the professionals who set up and set off fireworks displays – know how to safely use explosives. They also have to get the right gear, licenses, permits, and insurance. While a sparkler might seem harmless, any mistake lighting it could leave you with third-degree burns or start a fire that could spread wildly.

Your best bet is to leave orchestrating the display to the professionals, sit back, and just enjoy the show.

2. Watch from a safe distance.

Just how close is too close to a public fireworks display? You want to make sure you’re at least 500 feet away from where the explosives are being fired, the American Pyrotechnic Association warned. Otherwise, you could be in danger.

The good news is that when it comes to fireworks, a close-up view isn’t necessarily a better view, anyway. What really matters is that you have an unobstructed view of the sky.

3. If you are handling fireworks, read the directions first.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay (public domain).

First of all, see tip #1.

If for any reason you are handling fireworks – legally, I hope – then it’s essential to read the directions first. Unlike building a shelving unit or setting up a new electronic device, you could do some pretty serious damage making even minor mistakes when it comes to handling fireworks.

Seriously, it’s frighteningly easy to lose an eye (which is why professional pyrotechnicians know to wear safety goggles) or sustain a burn serious enough that you need to be hospitalized. Read the directions to avoid blinding or burning yourself – or someone else.

4. Know where it’s safest to light fireworks.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay (public domain).

There’s a reason firework displays are always outdoors. You don’t want a stray spark hitting the ceiling and igniting a building full of spectators. It’s also a bad idea to set off fireworks in wooded areas that could easily catch fire.

Never attempt to light fireworks in indoor or enclosed spaces, and don’t go to see a fireworks display at a questionable location, even if you’re just watching. You could still be in the danger zone, especially if you’re too close.

5. Don’t light more than one firework at a time.

Granted, a finale wouldn’t be all that grand if it was just a series of single fireworks. Again, though, professional pyrotechnicians painstakingly set up their displays with caution. If you’re standing in a backyard in Pennsylvania (where it’s legal) and trying to light sparklers three at a time, the outcome probably won’t be pretty. Do your face and hands a favor – if you must light legal consumer fireworks yourself, only light one at a time.

6. Always have plenty of water handy.

Even professional pyrotechnicians take precautions. If a firecracker goes out of control, there needs to be enough water immediately available to contain the fire and minimize the damage and the danger to others. The same goes for legal consumer fireworks. Make sure you have a hose or bucket of water in easy reach if you need to put out an unexpected blaze.

7. Never let small children handle fireworks.

It’s no wonder many children love fireworks: the bright, sparkling colors and the booms and whistles of the explosions. Letting your young children set off even a small consumer firework, though, is about as good an idea as putting them behind the wheel of a real-life racecar. They can easily hurt themselves or others if they make even the slightest mistake.

If you wouldn’t let your children play with fire, don’t let them play with fireworks.

8. Keep fireworks as far away from your body as possible.

It sounds obvious, but it’s apparently not. Some amateur firework starters believe that covering the lit firework with their bodies will “protect” it from the wind. In effect, they’re using themselves as human shields for inanimate objects – not the smartest move.

Fireworks safety is about knowing how to minimize risks and making good choices when it comes to viewing or handling pyrotechnics.

For more fireworks safety tips and laws by state, visit the American Pyrotechnics Association.