Fireworks are an American tradition—it’s nearly impossible to imagine a Fourth of July celebration without them. But if we want to continue to enjoy fireworks for years to come, we have to be smart about using them safely.
What's the risk with fireworks?
More fires are reported in the United States on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year, and fireworks cause almost half of them. The Fourth of July is also a day when many people—especially kids and teens—are burned by consumer fireworks like sparklers and fire crackers. These things are hot; the tip of a burning sparkler is about 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. As a comparison, your oven heats only to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit. A sparkler can cause a third-degree burn. Let’s not make spending the day in the emergency room a new American tradition.
The best fireworks show for the lowest risk: leave it to the professionals.
Why spend your holiday trying to make sure your guests don’t hurt themselves or burn the house down? Take everyone to see a professional fireworks show and let someone else do the work while you sit back and enjoy a better light show than you could ever do at home. If you want, you can probably see a different show every night of the Fourth of July weekend, because some towns do a show the day before or after the holiday. Check out your local papers, community postings, and online calendars to find all of the fireworks shows taking place near you.
If you buy your own fireworks (called consumer fireworks), use only those that are legal in Maine.
Know the rules for fireworks. You can use consumer fireworks such as sparklers and firecrackers in Maine, but you can’t use bottle rockets, missile-type rockets or “helicopters” and spinners. Though not as common on the Fourth of July, floating paper lanterns (also known as Chinese lanterns or sky lanterns) are also a no-go.
You can use these approved fireworks legally on your property, or with permission from the property owner. But you can’t use them, for example, in a park. And, although consumer fireworks are legal in the state of Maine, be aware that some cities or municipalities may ban them. You can search all of the individual municipal fireworks ordinances to find out which you are free to light.
If you use fireworks, watch out for children. Children and teens may not know how to safely handle fireworks. Be aware that if you have consumer fireworks at your barbecue or gathering, you are in charge of making sure the fireworks stay in the right hands.
Here are some ways to be smart with fireworks and avoid injury or property damage, courtesy of the National Council on Firework Safety.
Know your fireworks. Read the labels and know what to expect before setting them off.
Have a responsible adult who is not under the influence of alcohol supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.
Never relight a “dud” firework. Wet it down and dispose of it.
Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
Dispose of used fireworks by wetting them down and placing them in a metal trashcan away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
Don’t forget about your pets.
Every year around the Fourth of July, there is an increase in the number of pets who have ingested fireworks, have run away because they are scared by fireworks, or who have issues with the loud noise of fireworks. Read the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA’s) tips for how to keep your furry friends safe this Fourth of July.
Remember what Smokey the Bear always said.
"Only you can prevent forest fires." Think twice about lighting those Roman Candles if it has been particularly hot and dry. Check out the Wildfire Danger Report for Maine from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Respect our public safety heroes by being safe with fireworks.
Honoring our firefighters is also an important American tradition. For every fire caused by fireworks, our firefighters must put themselves at risk to preserve your safety and property. You can honor Maine’s firefighters by avoiding those unnecessary risks.
By making safe and smart decisions about fireworks, you can enjoy your Fourth of July holiday without worry about injury or risk to your property. Happy Independence Day!