Fireworks like roman candles, ladyfingers, ground spinners, and M-80s are a great addition to a festive holiday. However, some parts of the country are experiencing a drought right now, and fireworks can lead to fires that spread and cause a great deal of damage. If you want to enjoy your fireworks without risking a forest fire, then follow the safety tips below.
Create A Designated Firework Area
If you want to light off fireworks on your property when the weather is dry, then consider using a patch of concrete or asphalt as your launching or lighting area. Some fireworks will produce stains though, so make sure to set a piece of fire-resistant or fire-retardant wood down first. A piece of plywood that has been treated with chemical salts is a good choice. If you do not have a concrete- or asphalt-covered space available, then look for an area of your property covered in dirt.
If you only have grassy spaces, then create a lighting area by trimming the grass down to about one-eighth of an inch in a three foot diameter circle. Rake up the cut grass and then inspect your fireworks to see if they are ground or aerial devices. Black cats, M-80s, ladyfingers, ground spinners, and snakes are all fireworks that remain on the ground. Fountains, roman candles, rockets, missiles, and aerial repeaters are all aerial devices.
If you only have ground fireworks, then use your hose to spray a 30 foot diameter space around the lighting area. If you have aerial fireworks, then extend the wet ground to a 100 foot diameter space. This will help to contain and extinguish sparks that release from the fireworks.
Prepare For Lighting
Once you have your space ready, wet your lighting area one last time and then check the wind speed. Wind speeds can be measured with a small handheld device called an anemometer, and you can buy an inexpensive one from your local sporting goods or home supply store. Use the device to determine if wind speed is high. High winds can cause sparks to fly far enough that they set nearby brush, trees, and grass on fire outside of the designated lighting area. Wind speeds that are at or below 28 kilometers an hour are gentle enough that fireworks can be set off safely.
Before you start lighting the fireworks, make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy to put out any fires that may happen to start. The best extinguisher is one that is meant to control class A fires. Class A fires are ones where materials like paper and wood have started on fire. Water and foam extinguishers as well as dry chemical varieties will work well. Give the extinguisher to one, designated-fire-watch adult.
Dispose of Fireworks Properly
You may be mostly concerned about setting grass and trees on fire when setting off fireworks, but you should also be worried about setting garbage cans ablaze too. To avoid this problem, make sure to place all lit fireworks in a big bucket of water after they are done going off. Use a metal bucket instead of a plastic one so it does not melt from the heat of the fireworks. Also, wait about 10 or 15 minutes for the fireworks to cool off before setting them in the bucket. This way, you will not burn yourself or heat up the water in the bucket.
Keep the fireworks in the bucket overnight so they become drenched with water. Place the fireworks in a plastic bag and tie up the bag. This will help to trap the water so the fireworks do not dry out and reignite. Throw the bags away in your regular garbage can afterwards.
Contact your local firework store for additional safety advice.