Safety first: Fireworks do's and don'ts

Mike DeNardo
July 03, 2019 - 1:41 pm
Fireworks safety demonstration

Keri Wiginton/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Sipa USA

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Some aerial fireworks are now legal in Pennsylvania — but that doesn't mean they're not dangerous.

There are some common-sense rules for people who opt to fire off their own pyrotechnics. Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego advises that fireworks should only be set-off by adults — sober adults — with plenty of water nearby.  

The law requires you to stay 150 feet away from any occupied building when using fireworks. 

If a Roman candle or bottle rocket doesn't go off properly, Trego advises to stray on the cautious side.

"I would recommend you never try to relight the dud, the one that didn't go off," he said.

When disposing of fireworks, Trego said wait until they're cool, then soak them overnight in a bucket of water.

"Soak them with water, and do not dispose of them in a burn barrel or somewhere where it's close to heat," he said.

It's best to wrap the fireworks in a plastic bag to keep them from drying out, and then put them outdoors in your regular household garbage.

But before you seek out these fireworks, check with your town's ordinance. They may be legal in the state, but not your neighborhood.

According to the Pennsylvania Office of the State Fire Commissioner, eight amateur fireworks lighters died in 2017, while nearly 13,000 people were treated in emergency rooms nationwide for fireworks-related injuries. Thirty-six percent of those injuries were among children under the age of 15.

The Office of the State Fire Commissioner offered some other safety advice:

  • Whether watching a professional show or using them yourself, always remain at a safe distance from the ignition of fireworks.
  • Never allow children to play with fireworks, even sparklers, which can burn at temperatures of at least 1200 degrees.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol, drugs or other medications or substances.
  • Only light fireworks one at a time, then quickly back away.
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy in case of a fire.

So for the most effective and safest way to avoid injuries or fires, Trego added it's best to leave the fireworks to the professionals.