There’s a reason they’re called pyrotechnics. Fireworks aren’t toys. There is a distinct complexity to how they work, and how to operate them safely.

Still, hundreds of thousands of homeowners flock to parking lot kiosks and fireworks warehouses ahead of July and throughout the summer, loading up their trunks with various sparklers and rockets to make a big bang in their backyards.

Of course, the safest way to enjoy fireworks this season is to leave the spectacle to the professionals. However, if you do decide to light fireworks at home, keep the following fireworks safety tips in mind:

  1. NEVER light fireworks indoors. And always ignite a safe distance from homes, other buildings, dry grass or brush, and anything flammable. Keep a hose and a bucket of water nearby and be sure to wet down – then soak – any fireworks that fail to ignite.
  2. NEVER hold a lit firework in your hands. Recent research showed that more than 15,000 people were sent to the ER as a result of fireworks-related accidents in 2020 – hands and fingers accounted for the highest percentage of injuries.
  3. Use protective eyewear. Fireworks produce flying debris that can easily damage your eyes if left unprotected.
  4. Fireworks are a no-no for kids. Don’t let children handle fireworks – even those that are considered to be “safer,” such as sparklers or bottle rockets. What many parents don’t know is that sparklers can burn at upwards of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Temps that can melt metal. Instead, consider alternatives such as glow sticks or paper noise makers.
  5. NEVER light fireworks in containers. Particularly metal or glass – they could explode.

Also take care to only purchase legal, licensed fireworks for home use, not homemade fireworks, those manufactured for professional use (often wrapped in brown paper), or fireworks that have otherwise been banned. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. As always, in the event of burns or injuries – go to your nearest urgent care or ER.

Fireworks are far from exclusive to Independence Day and tend to pop (no pun intended) up throughout the summer at different events and celebrations. Have fun but be cautious, and enjoy the show – preferably from a good, safe distance.