​Fireworks are fun. Here's how to use them legally and safely.​

July 1, 2021

Legal vs. Illegal fireworks graphic

​​​Sure, sparklers are legal. But they burn at 1,200 degrees, so if you don't handle them according to instructions, you can burn yourself badly. For example, the directions on packages of sparklers say to light only one at a time—but Andrew Kuechle of Eden Prairie has three kids. So during their Memorial Day vacation this year, he lit three at once, and the next thing he knew, his palm and fingers were so badly burnt that he can't fully work until it heals.

Injuries like his are more common than you might think: In 2020, 78 people went to Minnesota hospitals with fireworks injuries. That doesn't come close to the actual number of people injured who didn't seek care at a hospital.

When fireworks aren't used safely, they can damage more than bodies. A Chisago County homeowner learned this the hard way when they disposed of used fireworks in a garbage can before they cooled off. It created a fire hot enough to burn the siding off part of their garage before a neighbor saw it and put it out. Damage like that isn't cheap: Fireworks caused more than $1 million in property damage last year.

This doesn't mean you have to avoid fireworks altogether this Fourth of July. It just means you have to be smart about it and follow a few simple precautions. First, make sure any firework you're using is legal in Minnesota. An easy way to remember what kind of fireworks are illegal is that anything that explodes or shoots in the air is against the law. So, for example, firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles all fall into that category. Instead, stick to fireworks like fountains, ground spinners, snappers and sparklers.

Once you have your legal fireworks ready to go, follow these safety tips:

  • Make sure you and the kids are wearing shoes. Stepping barefoot on a used sparkler can cause serious burns.

  • Point fireworks away from animals and people.

  • Use them away from trees and houses—remember that, despite the recent rain in some places, most of Minnesota is still in a drought.

  • Have a bucket of water handy and dispose of all spent fireworks in it.

  • Don't try to relight a dud.

  • Teach children about fireworks safety and closely supervise them.

  • Don't use fireworks when intoxicated.

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Fireworks are definitely a fun way to celebrate our nation's birthday. And if you stick to Minnesota-legal fireworks and follow basic fireworks safety precautions, you can make sure your celebration doesn't cross from fun into tragedy.