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Safety isn’t a Light Issue on Fourth of July

By Graphic Products Editorial Staff

“A statistician made a few calculations and discovered that since the birth of our nation more lives had been lost in celebrating independence than in winning it.”  ~Curtis Billings

You may have the same BBQ and fireworks traditions each year—but maintaining safety traditions will provide you and your family protection from becoming part of the tongue-in-cheek calculation reference of our uniquely American celebration.

If you haven’t established some ground rules in regards to safety for Fourth of July—grab some ideas from our list of tips to make sure your fireworks display doesn’t become an interactive show. Fireworks are a performer you definitely don’t want to heckle.


  • Don’t look up how to make your own fireworks online, or any other similar experimentation.
  • Don’t cross state or country borders to purchase illegal fireworks (legal ones have a manufacturer’s label).
  • Store the legal fireworks in a cool dry place until Showtime.
  • Find a large open space, with no vegetation for your show. Allow at least 25 feet of space between the designated lighter and spectators.
  • Spray down the lighting area with water first.
  • Keep your animals inside. Pets are frightened easily and can get loose, running into harm’s way.
  • Go over safety rules with children that will be holding, or near, fireworks.
  • If alcohol is present, make sure to enlist a sober “lighter” for the evening.

During Showtime

  • Keep a bucket of water or hose nearby and pour water on fireworks as they burn out.
  • Wear eye protection and follow any provided directions.
  • Do not allow young children to light fireworks.
  • Light fireworks one at a time. No pre-lighting.
  • Back up at least 10 - 25 feet immediately after lighting fireworks.

Handling of Fireworks

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there has been an average of 8,500 fireworks injuries in the U.S. each year since 2008, and nearly 2,000 of those, in 2012, were eye-injuries. At minimum, it’s good idea to have young children wear gloves (like gardening gloves) and or safety glasses as a defense against sparklers. Some sparklers can burn up to 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals. In 2012 there were over 600 emergency department treated injuries due to sparklers. Keep extra gloves and safety glasses nearby for others lighting fireworks or for spectators.

The After Party

  • Pick up all fireworks debris and place in a bucket or other fireproof container to soak with water.
  • If there are any unused fireworks, place them also in a fireproof container and submerge in water for at least 15 minutes. You should never store unused fireworks without a plan for disposal or use within short period of time.
  • Double wrap the soaked fireworks in a garbage bag and place in your outside trash bin.
  • Contact your local fire department or solid waste facility for alternative disposal options.

Watching fireworks each Fourth of July is an American tradition. The safest way to experience this is by watching a community based large display. By leaving the explosives up to pyro technicians who have personal protection equipment and are properly trained is the safest way for your family to enjoy the show.  Happy Independence Day.