Ways to stay safe with July 4th fireworks

Fireworks can be unpredictable enough as it is, but illegal fireworks up the danger even more. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)(AP/Tony Gutierrez)
WASHINGTON — Independence Day is not too far away and many may be planning to celebrate the holiday with fireworks.

But it is always important to remember to stay safe when using them.

The Fairfax County Fire Department says location is very important. A flat, clear surface is ideal.

“Keep 50 feet between fireworks and any combustibles,” said Battalion Chief John Walser. “And also keeping people back at least 25 feet away from the fireworks when you discharge it just because of that unpredictability.”

That unpredictability increases when illegal fireworks are used. The county says firecrackers, cherry bombs, skyrockets and other popular fireworks that might be sold in other states are illegal in Virginia.

If by chance you end up with a dud that does not light up, give it some time.

“It’s always good to have that 15 minute cool down time,” Walser said. “It’s important to have a bucket of water and hose nearby to make sure that you can make any unexploded firework safe after the fact. But, don’t go near it for 15 minutes just because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The fire department also recommends that you try not having your own fireworks show, a la A Capitol Fourth. They suggest you just focus on lighting only one firework at a time.

Young children should not handle or light fireworks. You also should be careful with letting kids play with sparklers.

“If a child waves a sparkler close to another child, their clothes can catch on fire,” said Walser. “They don’t understand the temperatures that those sparklers can get to.”

Sparklers can get as hot as 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ultimately, the battalion chief said, it is probably best to just watch the show instead of starting your own.

“It’s important to leave the fireworks to the professionals and go view a display that’s in your neighborhood. Don’t set fireworks off in your driveway.”

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up