See sparks fly safely this Independence Day

July 1, 2024

A sparkler burns 

Seeing sparks fly as fireworks go off can be a magical part of any Fourth of July celebration. But that joyful magic can turn into a trip to the emergency room or serious property damage if you aren't careful.

“Fireworks can be fun, but all fireworks are also dangerous," State Fire Marshal Dan Krier said. “Don't put yourself in harm's way."

Each year, our State Fire Marshal (SFM) division receives reports from Minnesota hospitals regarding people injured by fireworks. It's impossible to know how many people were injured and did not seek medical attention, but we know from reports at least 22 people were treated for injuries in 2023. In 2022, one teen died and 11 people were injured.

The damage isn't limited to people's health. Over the last five years, there have been 664 fires where fireworks were listed as the item first ignited. Those fires caused an estimated total of $11 million in damages. According to SFM data, 46 percent of those fires were grass fires and 19 percent were building fires.

In Minnesota, fireworks that explode or shoot into the air are illegal for use by the general public. Minnesotans can use wire or wood sparklers, fountain fireworks that sit on the ground, ground spinners or other similar fireworks.

There are also size limitations on fireworks packaging. Seventy-five grams per nonaerial firework or half of a kilogram or less per group of nonaerial fireworks are legal for the general public to use on private property. That means that firecrackers, parachutes, bottle rockets, roman candles, any kind of mines, shells or sky rockets are illegal without a certified operator permit.

Even legal fireworks can be risky if used improperly. Sparklers, for instance, are often handed out to children, but some burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees. That's hot enough to melt some metals and can cause serious burns, especially if kids are running around barefoot and step on them.

If you're using fireworks, keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy, just in case. Extinguish and dispose of spent fireworks in the bucket and never try to relight a dud. Instead, soak it in water and dispose of it.

Always point fireworks away from people and animals. Use them away from trees and houses and don't use fireworks while intoxicated.

While consumer fireworks may seem safe and fun, it is far safer and more exciting to see any number of professional fireworks displays throughout the state of Minnesota.