Each year in the US, fireworks cause over 19,000 fires and result in upwards of 9,000 emergency room visits.
Last year, the number of firework-related injuries reached a staggering 11,500, and, tragically, nine people died.
Although the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch a professional show, we know they’re a big part of many people’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
That’s why we put this list of twelve firework safety tips together—to help you prevent dangerous mishaps and ring in the new year as safely as possible.
Firework Safety Tips for a Safe & Happy New Year
1. Check if Fireworks Are Legal in Your Area
There’s only one state that outright bans all consumer fireworks: Massachusetts.
However, laws regarding fireworks differ quite a bit in other states. Some allow most consumer fireworks, while others only permit the sale of non-aerial and non-explosive models.
In Florida, your selection isn’t very limited, but you’re only legally allowed to shoot them off three days a year—July 4th, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
In Hawaii, Nevada, and Wyoming, it’s up to each county to create their own rules and regulations concerning fireworks.
So, before you set the skies ablaze, make sure consumer fireworks are legal where you live. Ignoring this firework safety tip could get your New Year’s celebration cut short!
*If they are legal in your area, stick to licensed fireworks dealers to avoid unregulated products.
2. Read the Labels & Follow Instructions
Not all fireworks are created equal, and understanding how each one functions is crucial to operating it safely.
Reading the labels and following the manufacturer’s instructions will inform you on how to properly set your fireworks up, what to expect when they go off, and the minimum safe distance to maintain from them.
3. Dress Properly
Avoid loose, baggy clothing when lighting fireworks, as hanging sleeves and hems can easily ignite.
4. Location is Key
Don’t become part of the statistics we covered above. Never light fireworks indoors, in containers of any kind, or near tall buildings, trees, and other overhead obstructions.
5. Never Let Young Children Use Fireworks
Even with adult supervision, young children should never be allowed to handle, light, or play with fireworks. And that includes sparklers.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, sparklers burn at around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some metals.
Fireworks may seem like a lot of fun for kids, but the risk of injury is simply too great.
6. Keep an Emergency “Killswitch” Nearby
Always have a bucket of water, garden hose, or fire extinguisher close by in case things get out of hand.
The faster you’re able to respond to an unexpected fire, the more you can mitigate the damage.
7. Light Fireworks One at a Time
Big explosions are the best explosions. But this firework safety tip is about fighting that natural human urge to create the most spectacular display on your block.
Never light more than one firework at the same time, and move fast to reach the recommended safe distance each time you light one.
8. Keep Your Distance
As mentioned in firework safety tip number two, each product will recommend a different minimum safe distance.
To play it safe, we suggest reading each label and following the distance recommendation that’s the farthest—regardless of what firework you’re currently using.
9. Never Light Fireworks in Your Hand
Outside of sparklers (which should be used with an abundance of caution), never light or hold lit fireworks in your hand. Not following this firework safety tip can lead to burns, serious injuries, and even death.
10. When in Doubt, Don’t Re-light
This firework safety tip could save you or a loved one’s life.
If you try to light a firework but it goes out, never try to re-light it. It may just be a dud, but if not, it could explode before you’re able to move away.
11. Stay Sober
Never use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. It’s a recipe for misuse and dangerous accidents.
12. Properly Dispose of Your Fireworks
Once the party’s over, you’ll want to follow the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s firework safety tips to dispose of any leftover debris and unused or dud fireworks:
- Completely submerge fireworks in a large bucket of water and soak until thoroughly saturated. This may take 15 minutes for small fireworks or as long as overnight for larger ones.
- Double wrap the completely soaked fireworks in plastic wrap or two plastic bags, so they don’t dry out.
- Place the double-bagged fireworks in the household trash or take them to your local solid waste facility.
- You can contact your local fire department or solid waste facility, as other disposal options may be available in your community.
Improper firework disposal may lead to house fires, which can cause costly property damage, injuries, and death.
Bonus Tip #13: Get Emergency Help Instantly With the Rescu App
If a fire breaks out during your New Year’s celebration, there’s a good chance your local 911 dispatch center could be overwhelmed with other emergency calls.
Understaffing is a major problem affecting call centers nationwide—a problem that can have disastrous consequences.
Victims across the country are being placed on hold, rerouted, and experiencing unacceptably long wait times during crises that can turn deadly if emergency responders don’t arrive in time.
Not to mention, emergencies always increase dramatically during the holidays, adding more weight to the already heavy burden on local call centers.
But with the Rescu app, you can avoid this risk entirely and enjoy peace of mind this New Year’s.
With two taps on your phone or Apple Watch, you can instantly dispatch first responders (fire, police, or ambulance services) to your pre-registered address or current location—without saying a word.
Rescu’s private UL-Certified dispatch center operates 24/7, ensuring you won’t be tied down by the limits of the public dispatch system. That means you’ll never get placed on hold, rerouted, or go without help.
Make safety your New Year’s resolution this year. Download Rescu today for protection you can always count on.