Fireworks: “Legal” and “safe” are not the same thing

July 1, 2019

A firecracker burning on the pavement

Some fireworks are legal here in Minnesota. Some aren’t. But all of them can be dangerous. It’s a little more obvious with the illegal ones, which include anything that flies or explodes. Think firecrackers, bottle rockets, missiles, Roman candles, and mortars and shells. But even legal fireworks, such as snakes, party poppers, and cones or tubes that emit sparks, can cause serious damage and injury if not used properly.

Fireworks aren’t for kids – that’s why you have to be at least 18 years old to buy them (and the people who sell them are required to check IDs). Take sparklers, for example. They may seem relatively harmless, which is why they’re a popular choice for kids. But sparklers burn at temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees, and it shows: about 40 percent of fireworks injuries happen to kids, and 30 percent of all fireworks injuries are from sparklers.

As long as we’re talking statistics, it’s important to note that there are an average of 73 hospital visits every year in Minnesota due to injuries from fireworks. And the body parts most injured by fireworks? Faces and hands.

But it’s not just bodily injury you have to worry about with fireworks; it’s property damage, too. Fireworks – even legal ones – can’t be used on public property, such as parks, roads, alleys, schools and government property. Which means that if you want to set off some fireworks, you have to do it on private property.

Keep in mind, though, that fireworks caused over half a million dollars in property damage last year in Minnesota. So if you use fireworks, always point them away from people, animals and property. After all, there’s a reason why the pros often set them off from barges: With all that water around, they’re less likely to set anything on fire or hurt anyone.

A few other fireworks safety tips:

  • Have a bucket of water or sand handy where you can dispose of spent fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light a dud. Put it in the bucket instead.
  • Use fireworks in an open area away from trees and houses.
  • If you let your children use fireworks, supervise them closely.
  • Only use fireworks that are legal in Minnesota.

A sure-fire (pun intended) way to ruin your Fourth of July is with a visit to the ER or a visit from the fire department. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with legal fireworks. It just means that you need to take a few precautions and be careful while using them.