How to Use Fireworks Safely

Advice on what to look for when purchasing fireworks.

from National Council on Fireworks Safety

Even sparklers can be unsafe if used improperly. Even sparklers can be unsafe if used improperly.

There’s a huge difference between a legal consumer firework and a dangerous explosive device. Items such as M-80s, M-100s and blockbusters are not fireworks — they are federally banned explosives and can cause serious injury or even death. Stay away from anything that isn’t clearly labeled with the name of the item, the manufacturer’s name, and instructions for proper use.

Here are some more tips to help ensure a safe Fourth of July:

1. Never give fireworks to young children. Close, adult supervision of all fireworks activities is mandatory. Even sparklers can be unsafe if used improperly.

2. Select and use only legal devices. If you choose to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, check with your local police department to determine what fireworks can be legally discharged in your area. (Find your state’s laws here.)

3. Don’t make your own fireworks. Homemade fireworks can be deadly. Never attempt to make your own devices and do not purchase or use any kits that are advertised for making fireworks. Mixing and loading chemical powders is very dangerous and can kill or seriously injure you. Leave the making of fireworks to the experts.

4. Carefully inspect each firework you purchase. Check to make sure it isn’t leaking powder and that the fuse is securely attached. If the item has a base, make certain it’s secure. For rocket-type fireworks, make sure the stick is rigid and well attached. Because water can affect the sensitive chemicals packed inside a firework, avoid items that appear to have been wet and then dried. Also avoid fireworks that show signs of mishandling or appear to be old.

5. Remember to look for the name of the item, the manufacturer’s name and instructions for use on each item. These are required by law, and if you don’t see them, the firework may have been made illegally and could be very dangerous.