The use of fireworks is a popular form of celebration all around the world, however proper precautions should be taken to ensure the safety of handlers, spectators and property. The nature of fireworks is such that they seem like toys, but they can be very dangerous. Handheld sparklers for instance can reach temperatures of 1000 degrees Celsius, so safety should never be taken lightly.
In Canada, fireworks are separated into three different classes. Consumer Fireworks are low-hazard firework products designed for recreational use by the public. Display Fireworks are high-hazard products designed for use by professionals. Pyrotechnic Special Effects are high-hazard pyrotechnics designed for use by professionals and include pyrotechnics manufactured for live stage and the film and television industry. For more information, visit https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/explosives/fireworks/9883
The rules for the use of fireworks will vary from region to region, so it’s important to know the regulations for your area.
- Follow the laws and regulations regarding the use of fireworks for your region. Firework displays for your municipality may be completely prohibited, restricted to certain days only, or be allowed at any time of the year. In some cases, permits may also be required, so be sure to check with your local fire department for details and guidelines.
- Purchase your fireworks from a reliable source that only sells products meeting Canadian safety standards. Never use illegal products or firecrackers.
- In Canada, fireworks can only be sold to individuals 18 years and older
- Typically, family fireworks should be set off on private property only
- Never set off fireworks during an open air burning ban
We sometimes forget that fireworks really are explosive in nature. It’s important to apply some simple rules around their use and to stay diligent when it comes to safety.
- It may seem like common sense, but fireworks should NEVER be used indoors
- Carefully read and follow the instructions on the fireworks labels to ensure safe handling, lighting and the safety of spectators
- Always use fireworks in an open area away from buildings, vehicles, overhead obstructions and dry brush or grass
- Ground-based fireworks should be lit on a hard, flat and level surface to maintain stability. For aerial types, they should be buried up to half their length in sand or soil.
- Keep spectators back at least 20 meters from the lighting area
- Check wind conditions and direction before lighting. Winds should not be too strong and should be blowing away from spectators and buildings.
- Keep a hose or a bucket filled with water or sand close to the lighting area in case of a malfunction or accidental fire
- Wear eye protection and non-flammable clothing when firing
- Never allow children to handle or light fireworks and designate one adult to manage the firing of all items
- Light only one item at a time and never hold in your hand when doing so. Also stay an arm’s length away from the item being fired and immediately step away.
- Never attempt to re-light a “dud” or defective firework
- Store unused fireworks in a closed box away from the firing area and do not smoke around them
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Do not drink while handling or firing fireworks.
- Keep your pets safe (and less stressed) by leaving them indoors
- Never attempt to alter or modify consumer fireworks in any way
After The Show
Applying a few post-fireworks precautions will help to keep everyone safe.
- Don’t be in a rush to clean up after the fireworks are all done. Wait at least 30 minutes for items to cool off and then sweep the area for debris and any items that may have misfired (duds). It’s also a good idea to check the area the next morning when visibility is better.
- Don’t put used fireworks into the trash until you are 100% certain that they are cool enough to do so. Soaking the debris in water is always a good practice before you dispose.
- Never attempt to burn fireworks or casings in a bonfire or fireplace. Left over residue can easily explode and cause serious injury or damage.
- Sparklers should be immersed in a bucket of sand or water to cool down after burning out, as they remain very hot for some time afterward
Fireworks are a popular part of holiday celebrations, but they should always be treated with a healthy dose of respect. Be sure to apply some common sense and caution when using them, in order to keep everyone safe.