How to make sure your firework display is a safe event
Fireworks are great fun and can provide a wonderful spectacle. When used to celebrate the 4th July in the USA, November 5th in the UK or the New Year around the world, they add pizazz and can ensure that the event is both memorable and spectacular. We should never forget though that fireworks can be dangerous, especially in the wrong hands.
If you attend an organised event health and safety issues should have been addressed beforehand. You will still need to follow a sensible approach though. If the firework display is to be a smaller community or home event, it could be that you will responsible for making sure that the event goes off without a hitch. Common sense and the advice given in this guide will help your event be safe, as well as fun.
Always purchase fireworks from a reputable supplier. There are so many fake goods on the market these days it is dangerous to buy fireworks from an unknown supplier. Look for well known branded fireworks and make sure that you read the packaging for the manufacturer’s storage and usage guidelines. Keep these guidelines in a safe place.
Fireworks need to be stored as recommended by the manufacturer. If you are organising a large firework display you may need a license.
As a general rule fireworks should be stored in:
- An airtight container.
- The container should preferably be metal and definitely not made of a material such as plastic.
- The fireworks should be stored well away from any source of heat.
- An outhouse could be the ideal place to store fireworks, if it is lockable. Fireworks need to be stored where children, for example, cannot access unsupervised.
It is not safe for children to handle and light fireworks. Unless your country has legal age limits set, use your common sense and personal knowledge of the child involved. After all, some teenagers are sensible whilst others are not. Generally it is safer for young people to enjoy watching the display, whilst an adult, or adults, is the person responsible for the display.
Make sure that children are aware of the potential hazards. They should be told never to handle the fireworks, especially once they are lit. Children must not be allowed to run about, close to the fireworks.
Pets and animals
There are always some exceptions to the rules, which means that some pets will be fine around fireworks. On the whole though, this is not true. You will need to ensure that your pets and animals are kept indoors, well away from the fireworks. The light and noise of a firework display can unsettle an animal, make them flee or cause them bodily injury.
If necessary consult your veterinarian about calming medication for your pet to take before the firework display begins.
The firework display
If you are organising a large firework event you will need to check the rules and regulations with your local council. You will need to make sure that the fire service is informed, have stewards and fire extinguishers. Research the exact needs as these will be based on the amount of spectators you expect, the location and the length the display may last.
For smaller home firework displays consider:
- The distance from your house and fence.
- The distance from neighbouring homes, fences and gardens.
- An appropriate place for the spectators to watch the display. This will need to be a good distance from the fireworks.
- An appropriate place to light and display the fireworks. This must be free off debris, overhanging plants and trees, foliage, litter and the like. Ideally choose a spot that has a firm footing.
Make sure that you have:
- A fire blanket and, or, small fire extinguisher.
- A long taper so that you can light the fireworks at arm’s length.
- A basic first aid box.
- The manufacturer’s full instructions for displaying the fireworks safely.
- A tin to store the fireworks outdoors until use. This must have a lid that fits securely.
- A small amount of sand for damping down. Store this in a metal bucket.
After the event remember to clear away the debris of the fireworks safely. Occasionally there may be fireworks that did not ignite. Cover these with sand before disposing of them safely.
If your firework party has included a bonfire ensure that this is left safe and not smouldering dangerously.
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