Fireworks come in various forms, including some that can be held by hand and others that explode in the air. Unfortunately, people have not handled any of these properly in the past, which has resulted in severe injury and even death.
Find out more about fireworks and how to use them safely without breaking the law:
Storing Fireworks Safely
Fireworks contain combustible and flammable materials that can pose serious danger if handled improperly. Remember to handle fireworks with caution, even while transporting and storing them. Treat them with respect while noting that they can ignite if near heat sources, such as heaters, open flames, and cigarettes. Store fireworks in dry places to keep them from getting damp. Never store fireworks in greenhouses, outside sheds, lofts, or patios. These areas tend to have temperature fluctuations, which can result in the buildup of condensation within the fireworks themselves. Wrap them in well-sealed liners or bags if necessary. Do not remove the fireworks from their carton until the day of launch. Never store fireworks with other flammable and combustible materials, such as oil, paint, and gasoline. Store fireworks in a secure container to keep children and animals away from them. Inquire with retailers to see if they offer storage options to avoid keeping fireworks at your home.
- The National Council on Fireworks Safety: Fireworks Safety Quiz
- Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital: Beware of Fireworks
- Consumer’s Guide to Using Fireworks: Basic Storage Advice
- Storing and Selling Fireworks Safely (PDF)
Complying with Legal Storage Limits
British law restricts consumers from storing certain classifications of fireworks at home without registering them first. Consumer fireworks generally come in three different classifications, including 1.4S, 1.4G, and 1.3G. The latter two meet the regulations for outdoor usage. Fireworks that come in their own carton will have a warning sign on the side of it to indicate the hazard level involved with the package. Inquire with the retailer if this does not exist anywhere on the package. Consumers can not purchase and store Hazard Type 4 (HT4) as dictated by the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations (MSER) laws without registering them first. This usually includes the 1.4S and 1.4G classifications; however, consumers should consult with their retailer if any doubt ensues. Hazard Type 3 (HT3) fireworks require registration due to restrictive limits governed by the MSER. A mix of products requires the consumer to treat them all as HT3 fireworks.
- The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives: Fireworks Safety and Security
- The Fire Protection Research Foundation: Fire Safety in Consumer Fireworks Storage and Retail Facilities (PDF)
- Classifications of Fireworks in the United States by Bob Weaver
Restrictions on Buying Fireworks
Children and young adults under the age of eighteen cannot buy fireworks legally. In addition, retailers and vendors can only sell fireworks that comply with the Firework Safety Regulations. They must also comply with existing British Safety Standards. Consumers can purchase fireworks without a sales license during four periods, including Guy Fawkes, New Years, the Chinese New Year, and Diwali. These periods can range from a couple of days to two weeks or more.
- A Fireworks Safety Manual (PDF)
- Example of Legal Fireworks in Michigan (PDF)
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Fireworks Safety (PDF)
Safely Lighting a Fireworks Display
Safe handling does not stop at transporting and storing fireworks. In fact, the most important steps involve igniting the fireworks display safely. Most professionals recommend only one person to light and let off fireworks. In addition, the person in charge of lighting and setting off the fireworks should abstain from alcohol and other forms of substance abuse. Ignite fireworks at arm’s length with a special lighter used for fireworks. Follow the recommended spectator distances to avoid possible injury to onlookers. Never retreat to check on a firework, even if it seems diffused. Walk away from a firework. Be careful with giving sparklers to children under the age of five, and wear gloves when lighting each one separately. Dispose of all sparklers into a bucket of water. Remember to wear eye protection when handling all types of fireworks. Keep pets locked in the house.
- KidsHealth: Fireworks Safety
- The Fireworks Alliance: Fireworks Safety Guidelines For Consumer Fireworks
- The National Safety Council: Using Fireworks Safely (PDF)
- The City of Temecula: Firework Safety and Statistics