What says summer more than a barbecue, some cold drinks and a few sparklers in your backyard with the whole family on the Fourth of July? Fireworks displays are an American tradition, one that comes with a lot of caution, but a tradition nonetheless. It's always a lot of fun to set off some fireworks for the big holiday, and many families take pride in following these annual traditions. However, fireworks can also be very dangerous, so it's so important to follow some simple common-sense guidelines when setting off any type of fireworks. Here are a few ways to make sure your family stays safe this Fourth of July.
Check the Law
First and foremost, check the laws in your state or area regarding which types of fireworks are legal. Every city has its own laws and regulations when it comes to fireworks and you don't want to be cited for setting off illegal fireworks. Due to droughts in many areas, fireworks are totally banned (even sparklers), so it's always best to play it safe. Sometimes the best and safest fireworks are the ones left to the professionals, so grab a blanket and a picnic and find a professional display near you for the safest (and most legal) way to enjoy the holiday.
Supervise the Kids
If you do live in a city where fireworks are legal, make sure you are supervising your kids. Children and teens need to be watched when setting off any sort of fireworks, as it is very easy to do something wrong, which can lead to injury or worse. Always have a bucket of water or hose ready when you start setting off your fireworks, just in case you need to put a firework out in a hurry. And always read the labels on any firework for additional cautions and advisories, including the proper way to light it.
Getting a Dud
Every now and then you'll get a "dud" firework, or one that doesn't go off as it was supposed to. It's tempting to try to re-light the firework, to see if you can still make that thing glow, however it's very dangerous. If you end up with a fire-dud wait at least 20 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water. Once it's soaked, you can place it in an outdoor garbage can. Yes, you ended up wasting some money, but a few bucks down the drain for a bad firework is a lot better than the risk of injury from attempting to re-light one.
Safety with Sparklers
Sparklers are some of the most common ways for younger children and families to celebrate on the Fourth of July. Remember a few important tips when using these pretty sticks and you'll be safe. First, never hold or attempt to light, more than one sparkler at a time. Second, never hold a child in your arms when using a sparkler and never throw sparklers. Also remember that the wire and stick remain very hot long after the sparkler itself has gone out, so be sure to drop the used ones in a bucket of water as soon as they are done glowing.
It may seem like common sense, but there are many simple things you can do to ensure you don't have any issues when using fireworks. Make sure to stand back once they are lit – fireworks have a tendency to backfire or go off in the wrong direction. Also, never point or throw a firework at anyone, even as a joke. Make sure to wear eye protection and never hold a firework in your hand while you are lighting it. You'll also want to make sure you aren't pointing that firework toward a home or any sort of brush or leaves, as that is the quickest way to start a fire. It's also possible to set off a firework with some simple friction, so never carry them in your pocket.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
for more features.