A backyard fireworks show can be a great way to make memories with family and friends no matter what time of year it is. It’s not hard to put on your own impressive display with consumer-grade fireworks. You just need to know how to set off a fireworks display safely.
Before you start setting up your fireworks show, make sure you have the right equipment to pull off a display safely. Thousands are hurt using fireworks each year – don’t become another statistic. Follow fireworks safety guidelines, prepare your racks carefully, and make sure you have safety equipment nearby to put out fires or treat burns.
Get the Right Equipment
You might be surprised at how much stuff you’ll need to set up a safe fireworks show. To put together fireworks racks, you’re going to need a piece of plywood about two by eight feet long (depending on how many fireworks you’re going to set off), and some scraps of two-by-fours or two-by-sixes. You’ll need a drill, screws, a saw, and maybe some zip ties.
To keep yourself safe, you will need appropriate close-toed footwear – boots for preference. You will need a long-sleeved shirt and pants made from a natural fiber like cotton – synthetic fibers will just melt if sparks land on them, which is bad news for your skin. You’ll need a pair of construction gloves and something to protect your head and neck – a baseball cap worn backwards is ideal for this. Safety goggles can protect your eyes from burning debris. A headlamp can help you see what you’re doing as you’re lighting fireworks in the dark. And you’ll need a rake and garbage bags to clean up the debris afterwards.
Follow Fireworks Safety Guidelines
Fireworks can seriously injure you, so it’s important to follow fireworks safety guidelines while you’re setting off your fireworks. Make sure that fireworks are appropriately anchored to the ground. You should anchor mortars, roman candles, and cakes to a piece of wood or put them in a firing rack. You can fire bottle rockets from bottles or from buckets full of sand.
Never hold a lit firework in your hand, and never turn your back on a lit firework – they can fall over if not properly anchored, and fire explosive, burning debris at you or your audience. Don’t let children handle fireworks, and don’t use alcohol or drugs while lighting off fireworks. Make sure you have plenty of space so you can keep your audience at a distance of one-and-a-half times the height of your highest aerial firework, and so you can have a fallout zone twice as big that is devoid of trees, bushes, structures, power lines, and other things that can catch on fire from falling sparks.
Prepare Your Fireworks Racks
For safety’s sake, you need to make sure your fireworks cakes, mortars, roman candles, and bottle rockets are firmly anchored to something on the ground before you light them off. A two-foot-by-eight-foot piece of plywood is ideal for anchoring your fireworks, because it’s heavy enough to keep them in place, and long enough to allow you to set up an impressive display. You can screw some scraps of two-by-sixes and two-by-fours to the bottom of the plywood to make it easier to pick up and move.
Attach your fireworks cakes and mortars in firing order down the long side of the piece of plywood, continuing down the other side as necessary. You can attach them by driving screws through the plastic bases or, if you have fireworks without a plastic base, directly through the bottom of the fireworks package. Most fireworks have clay in the bottom, so you’re not hurting anything. For roman candles and mortars, you can make a fireworks rack out of one-by-twos or two-by fours, or you can shove them into a bucket of sand to hold them upright. Put them in the sand right before the show, so they don’t absorb moisture from the sand. Moist fireworks will not light.
Keep Safety Equipment Nearby During the Show
It’s a good idea to keep some safety equipment nearby so you can put out fires or provide first aid as needed. Remember, if something goes wrong during the fireworks show, it’s going to do so in the dark, and you don’t want to fumbling around for water while a fire is growing. Keep a hose or a bucket or water or sand handy, as well as a first aid kit with burn cream and a phone to call 911 if something worse than a minor burn happens.
Setting up your own backyard fireworks show can be a great way to keep friends and family entertained, whether it’s a warm summer’s night or a New Year’s Eve bash. Make safety a priority, so that your audience can focus on enjoying your display.