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Summer Firework Safety

Fireworks can be a popular and fun Fourth of July tradition. However, all types of fireworks – even sparklers- can cause serious injuries. In 2016 alone,  7,600 people visited the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries in the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday.[2]

It is important to be aware of local laws, and use common sense to stay safe when using fireworks.

The following safety tips can help adults and children stay safe when using fireworks:

Firework Safety Tips

  • Do not use fireworks while drinking alcohol.
  • Obey all local laws and do not buy illegal fireworks. [1]
  • Do not allow children to use fireworks.
  • Always have a hose and a bucket of water on hand.
  • Do not attempt to re-light “dud” fireworks.
  • Keep pets far away from all fireworks.

It is also important to remember that even sparklers can cause serious injuries. Sparklers are usually used in the dark, and young children might be excited and even running with sparklers. While they may seem harmless, sparklers can burn at up to 1,200 degrees, and young children are often not able to hold sparklers far enough away from their bodies with their little arms.[3]  Glow sticks can be a safer alternative for young children.[4]

Illegal Fireworks

Illegal fireworks can also be a serious hazard. The federal government has banned a variety of fireworks that are exceptionally dangerous. These illegal fireworks include: large reloadable mortar shells, cherry bombs, M-80 salutes, larger firecrackers containing more than two grains of powder, as well as build-your-own firework kits.[5]  Consumers should not buy or fire illegal fireworks.


Fireworks can also cause wildfires. Fire officials from the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) warn that even fireworks that have burned out are hot enough to start a wildfire.[6]  To avoid the threat of wildfires, it is important to keep a bucket of water or a garden hose close by when lighting fireworks.


Safety must always be the first priority. One of the safest ways to enjoy fireworks is to attend a professional firework show, and avoid handling or firing consumer fireworks completely. Otherwise, be mindful of children and pets, and always take proper safety precautions when firing consumer fireworks.

For more firework safety tips, visit