Fireworks Safety
Buy only from legal, reliable dealers
Before you purchase fireworks, be aware of what is legal in your city, county, and state. If you are unsure, contact your local fire marshal. When you go to buy, be sure that the items you are purchasing have caution labels and product numbers on them - this is proof that it was made in a factory and adheres to firework safety standards.
Always follow label directions
Read the label carefully so you know how to properly use the firework. For example, flying spinners must be positioned with the proper side facing down in order for it to function safely (going up, as opposed to flopping along the ground towards flammables or people).
Only use when adults are present
Most firework injuries happen to children, especially those who are unsupervised. Fireworks are not toys, and should never been given to children no matter how cute or "harmless" they seem - especially sparklers.
Keep spectators at least 75 feet away from the firing area
If something were to tip over or fly erratically, you don't want it going near people.
Ignite using a long-handled lighter, torch, or road flare
Matches aren't very reliable (especially in wind), and punks usually burn out. In order to avoid long delays in between fireworks, use one of the three devices mentioned above in bold.
Keep supply of fireworks in a safe area
Prior to the day you plan to use your fireworks, store them in a cool, dry area (excessive heat and moisture can ruin them). When it's time to light them off, store them in a wooden or cardboard box at least 75 feet from the firing area to protect them from sparks and provide easy access.
Use only in open area
Only use fireworks outside, at least 50 feet from buildings, dry grass, or anything else that could potentially catch on fire.
Never stand over fireworks when lighting
If a device were to accidentally ignite, you would not want to be hit in the face with it. When lighting fireworks, crouch down at an arm's length distance and reach out to light it.
Always brace aerial items
Surround aerial items with bricks or put them in cinder blocks to ensure that they can't tip over. It is very unpleasant when a repeater tips over and begins firing into a group of people.
Use a flashlight at night
It's much safer and easier to find the fuse using a light than it is a flame. You should also use the flashlight to light your path after igniting the firework to be sure you don't trip on anything.
Keep animals indoors
Even the toughest dogs or cats are terrified by fireworks. To make the holiday less traumatic for them, put them in a bedroom with the blinds closed, the lights on, and the TV on or a stereo playing music in order to drown out the sounds of whistles and bangs. Even if you're leaving for the day to do fireworks elsewhere, doing this is still a good idea to keep them from being scared by neighbors' fireworks.
Light fuse; get away
If you don't understand this, you shouldn't be lighting fireworks.
Don't hold or throw fireworks
Another large percentage of fireworks-related injuries are those caused by people who hold them or throw them at others. Sometimes a firecracker's fuse will burn faster than anticipated, causing it to explode in someone's hand. Even a roman candle could have gotten its powder jarred loose during shipping, resulting in a blowout through the casing that could injure your hand.
Don't modify or relight fireworks
Tampering with fireworks is asking for trouble. Don't take them apart and mix the powders - some types of chemicals used in fireworks, such as barium salts, are toxic. If a burning fuse enters the device but it fails to fire (a "dud"), wait 5 minutes, then destroy it in water. Sometimes the fuse will appear to burn out, but may actually smolder (known as a hangfire). Leave the device alone for at least 10 minutes, because at any time the fuse may begin to burn again at it's usual rate.
Be sure to have water handy
Always have a large, 5-gallon bucket ready to put out any unexpected fires or smoldering items. Large "super-soaker"-type water guns work great, as well. They're easy to carry, have a long range, and can extinguish just about anything.
Douse used fireworks in water
Have another 5-gallon bucket or similar container than you can fill with water and put leftover fireworks in. This will not only put out any lingering sparks, but will destroy any leftover chemicals inside that may otherwise pose a fire hazard.
Never put fireworks in glass, PVC, or metal containers
An explosion could create razor-sharp shrapnel, which doctors will not have a fun time removing from your body.
Never carry fireworks in your pocket
This could very easily damage the device (fireworks are quite fragile), or a static spark could set it off.
Don't use old fireworks unless they've been kept safe
Fireworks can keep well for years as long as they're kept in a cool, dry place and aren't constantly being handled.. Any jostling or handing that a firework may have gone through in the course of a year can cause powder to leak, resulting in air pockets in the tubes. These air pockets can act as tiny combustion chambers and cause an unexpected explosion.