Top 10 tips for a safe and spectacular firework display
Picture your favourite way to celebrate Victoria Day or Canada Day. Maybe you’re exploring on a weekend camping trip, relaxing at the cottage with friends, or feasting at a family barbeque in the park. Wherever you’re enjoying the festivities, chances are fireworks will be involved (or at least heard).

First off all, if you’re planning on including fireworks in your day, it’s recommended to watch the public firework displays over doing your own. It’s much cheaper and much safer to leave it to the professionals. That being said, some people prefer the intimacy of creating their own backyard display for their friends and family. If this is you, we recommend that before you get started, make sure you know exactly what you’re doing. Here are our top 10 tips on how to make your firework display go out with a bang – that’s safe and spectacular.

  • 1. Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them. Before you start planning for the occasion, make sure you research whether it’s even allowed in your municipality. Different places have their own rules on when and where firework displays can occur. For example, Calgary doesn’t allow fireworks at all without a permit. Over in Toronto, you’re generally allowed to set off fireworks in your backyard but only on two days – Victoria Day and Canada Day.
  • 2. Always have a responsible adult in charge of the fireworks. Firstly, to buy or use fireworks, you must be at least 18 years old. But, more to the point, someone with knowledge and experience should be in charge of managing all things firework-related. If a guest was injured by a firework on your property, you could be sued for negligence if proper precautions weren’t taken.
  • 3. Carefully read and follow the directions on fireworks packaging. Make sure to keep a water hose or bucket of water close by when using fireworks in case of fire. For an extra precaution, a fire extinguisher is also recommended if you have one of those in your home. Also, use the bucket of water to soak used fireworks before putting them in the trash.
  • 4. Keep spectators a safe distance away. Set up a “safe zone” with a rope that they can stand behind, especially so any children can see where is out-of-bounds. Make sure the area is upwind from where fireworks are set off. Speaking of wind conditions – if it’s too windy to ignite a lighter or match, it’s probably too windy for fireworks.
  • 5. Never try to re-light or pickup fireworks that have not ignited fully. Fireworks that don’t light, or don’t ignite after the fuse burns all the way down are known as “duds”. Submerge the dud into the bucket of water after 20 minutes and keep in there until completely saturated (this can take as long as overnight for some larger fireworks).
  • 6. Never carry a firework in your pocket, in a fabric bag or plastic wrap. These materials can cause static, and the tiniest spark of static electric charge can cause a firework to ignite. Don’t hold a firework in your hand for any longer than necessary – the heat from your body and static electric charges from your clothes can also set off a firework.
  • 7. Immediately back up to a safe distance after lighting fireworks. These materials can cause static, and the tiniest spark of static electric charge can cause a firework to ignite. Don’t hold a firework in your hand for any longer than necessary – the heat from your body and static electric charges from your clothes can also set off a firework.
  • 8. Use a stable firing base, such as a bucket filled with sand or earth. Bury fireworks that do not have a standing base halfway in a bucket of earth or sand unless the directions on the firework says otherwise. Position them to be pointing away from any guests, at a 10-degree angle.
  • 9. Keep sparklers away from young children. Sparklers get extremely hot (up to 1000℃1) and their sparks can ignite clothing. Children’s arms are too short for sparklers – for a safer alternative give them glow sticks to hold instead. After the sparkler has gone out, it will still be very hot for minutes after. Soak it in water immediately to avoid injury.
  • 10. Know what to do if someone is injured by a firework. If someone gets burned, run cool water (not too cold) over the wound for three to five minutes and apply antibiotic. If it is a large or serious burn (or involves the eyes), seek medical attention immediately.

For more information, watch this Firework Safety video, produced by the Government of Canada1. It focuses on three topics to keep you safe when buying, storing and using fireworks: know the laws, know your space and read all instructions.


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Fireworks Safety Video