Summertime is here, and that means weekend afternoons at the pool, picnics, barbecues, and yes, fireworks. You don’t need to wait for your city or county to put on a fireworks show – you can put together a great display at home using commercial fireworks, which are available for sale over the counter in most states. You don’t need a lot of special supplies – just enough space to safely set off pyrotechnics. Follow these steps to make it happen.
The amount of space you’ll need to set off fireworks at home really depends on whether you’re setting off aerial fireworks or ground-based fireworks. Aerial fireworks like roman candles, bottle rockets, and mortars require a lot more space because they can fly so high into the sky and have a break size 30 feet wide or more.
You definitely need a fallout zone that’s large enough to accommodate the break size of any aerial fireworks you’ll be setting off, so that means one that’s 30 feet across, minimum. The fallout zone should be free of buildings and structures, trees and bushes, and any debris that could easily light on fire – like piles of dead leaves, firewood, or brush.
You’ll want to keep your audience at a significantly further distance from the firing line if you’re setting off aerial fireworks. Figure out how high into the air the aerial fireworks fly, and then plan to put your audience one-and-a-half times that many feet away.
If you’re lighting off ground-based fireworks, however, you may not need nearly as much space. Audiences will likely be safe at a distance of 15 feet from most ground-based fountains and other non-aerial fireworks.
Practice Fire Safety
It’s important to guarantee that your fireworks don’t start a fire. Make sure you’re aware of any local burn warnings and don’t set off fireworks if the risk of wildfire is high in your area. You can buy fireworks online, but make sure you’re aware of your local fireworks regulations before you do so. Many states allow both aerial and non-aerial fireworks with up to 50 milligrams of explosive powder, but some jurisdictions only allow non-aerial fireworks and some don’t allow fireworks at all.
Clear the area of any flammable materials before you light off fireworks. Keep something handy to put out any fires – a fire extinguisher, garden hose, or bucket of water can keep a small fire from getting out of hand. You should douse spent fireworks after the show to make sure they’re no longer smoldering before you throw them away.
Set Up Your Fireworks Ahead of Time
Ideally, you shouldn’t just set fireworks on the ground to light them off. If you have access to concrete or asphalt surfaces, you can set fireworks down on them to light. But if your firing area is covered with gravel or grass or uneven dirt, you should stabilize your fireworks ahead of time by securing them in a rack or attaching them to a length of plywood. You can build your own mortar rack for mortars. For repeater cakes and other aerials, you can screw them to a piece of plywood by driving the screws through the plastic base of the firework or through the clay plug at the bottom of the piece. Arrange the fireworks in the order you’re going to light them off for maximum convenience at showtime.
If you think it’s going to rain on the day of your fireworks show, you can wrap your pyrotechnics in aluminum foil and just light them without taking it off. This should protect the fireworks from moisture, and a light rain needn’t threaten the show. But if it’s windy on the day of the performance, you should call it off – wind can blow sparks and fiery debris in unpredictable directions.
Wear Safety Equipment
You need the right clothes and safety equipment to protect yourself when you’re lighting off fireworks. Wear long sleeves and pants in a 100 percent natural fabric, like cotton, because that can offer you the most protection from hot sparks that might fall on your skin. Wear a hat to protect your hair and scalp – a hat with a brim or a ball cap turned backwards will protect your neck. Wear boots or sneakers, and a pair of safety goggles to protect your eyes from sparks.
A home fireworks show can be a lot of fun, and it’s not hard to put one on. Pick up some dazzling commercial fireworks online, and host an event your family will talk about for a long time.