July 3rd, 2012
04:31 PM ET

As temperatures sizzle, fireworks are even more risky

With wildly high temperatures, wicked weather and wildfires across the country, there are more warnings than usual posted about fireworks safety this year. In addition to harming themselves, people are also in danger of lighting up their entire neighborhoods.

"What people don’t realize is while they’re setting off fireworks and sparklers in this hot, dry heat or wind, that fires can move very quickly, putting their neighborhood directly in threat," said Mike Apicello, a spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

"Look for open, wide spaces to ignite fireworks, and stay away from fire fuels such as grass, which in this type of heat, cure out really fast. And with the high winds, all it takes is an ignition, even in an urban environment. A bottle rocket on a shake roof would ignite a fire very rapidly.

"Our fire resources are going to be very busy across the nation this July Fourth, so please use caution," he said.

In the event of high winds, drifting embers can easily start a fire, so if it's too windy for you to safely ignite, it's best to set the sparklers aside for another day.

Apicello advises checking locally before you do anything, adding that fireworks are not allowed in national parks.

After all, fireworks aren't legal everywhere. CNN Radio reports in this podcast about where you can and can't ignite them.


Each year, more than 100 fireworks-related injuries are reported to hospitals, according to the National Council on Fireworks Safety.

Last year alone, 65% of those injuries happened, not surprisingly, during the 30 days around the Fourth of July, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported.

Most of the time, these injuries happen because the fireworks ignite unexpectedly or because of inappropriate usage, the CPSC said. The agency's injuries information breaks down the most dangerous types of fireworks and the damage they can cause. Hand, finger and facial injuries are the most common. A decapitation was reported last year.

This doesn't mean you should skip independent firework celebrations on your Independence Day.

The National Weather Service has some tips to keep your party from ending up at the hospital or starting a fire. While a lot of the tips seem to be common sense, they are listed because people have been injured after not observing them.

In dry areas:

■ Obey local ordinances regulating the sale and use of fireworks.

■ Use fireworks in a safe area away from dry fields, forests and buildings.

■ Carefully follow label directions and always have adult supervision.

■ Light one firework at a time and handle lighters safely.

■ Never point or throw fireworks at people or animals.

■ Keep water and garden tools nearby. Wet towels can extinguish small flames.

■ After the celebration ends, observe the area where fireworks were used to make sure everything is safe before leaving.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission also offers tips:

■ Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers, which burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.

■ Always have an adult closely supervise activities if older children are allowed to handle fireworks.

■ Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that they were made for professional displays and that they could be dangerous to consumers.

■ Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

■ Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of a fire or other mishap.

■ Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

■ Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

■ After fireworks complete their burning, douse them with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding them. Doing this could prevent a trash fire.

And from the National Council on Fireworks Safety:

■ Use fireworks outdoors only.

■ Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter them or combine them.

■ Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes, and then soak it in a bucket of water.

■ Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter, and the shooter should wear safety glasses.

■ Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated shooter."

■ Only people over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.

■ Do not use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives; they can kill you. Report illegal explosives to your fire or police department.

Fireworks laws vary from state to state, county to county and city to city, according to Julie Heckman of the American Pyrotechnics Association.

“There are a number of states that offer what we call full-line consumer fireworks, meaning they’re not restricted,” she said. “They’re allowing the broad categories of consumer fireworks stringently regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

Only four states prohibit the sale of fireworks: Delaware, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. That leaves 46 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico that allow them.

Are you a veteran of backyard fireworks? Share your tips with us in the comments below.

More on fireworks safety and handling hot temperatures:

Triple-digit strategies for staying healthy

Fireworks explode in New Hampshire home, injuring 9

Weather can wreak havoc on firework shows

Fireworks injury scar fades, memory doesn't

July Fourth fireworks: Fun but dangerous, feds warn

NY man blows off arm with fireworks

HLN: Dummies don't survive the annual Fourth of July fireworks safety demo

Cities celebrating without a bang

Video: Home fireworks safety

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Obama Mama

    Almost all the displays have been canceled in St. Louis and surrounding counties, too dry. Too hot to watch another 101 degree day, with an index of maybe 110 degrees. ugh

    July 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    In this state, it's a real joke. You can, if you sign a waiver, saying the illegal fireworks "you buy" will be out of the state in 24 hours.
    Do you honestly believe they'll be taken
    out of state?

    July 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Obama Mama

      We can buy them we just cannot light them. lol

      July 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jesse

      in Pennsylvania every single license plate was from New York so yeah, sometimes they are.

      July 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Indiana has the same law.
    We loao at that.

    City of Chicago cancelled fireworks; Navy Pier didn't though...
    It's too hot to breathe.
    The fireworks will light themselves...

    July 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Obama Mama

      The fireworks downtown at the Arch are on a barge in the Mississippi. I do not know if they will even light those. It is too dry everywhere in Missouri.

      July 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chillipepper

    Who can afford fireworks with the cost of living? The rent is too damn high

    July 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mr Dalloway

    Have a happy Independence day to all Americans, let's continue to make this a better country.

    July 3, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy©

      What a lovely sentiment, Mr. Dalloway!
      I am watching fireworks right now, (we are giving them names) and I can tell you it's still quite warm, but there is a breeze, so it's actually quite lovely.
      Plus we have our own "cooling station", if you know what I mean...
      Happy 4th, everyone! :)

      July 3, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Hamsta

    Good maybe a roman candle will land on the whitw house and burn it to the ground. The government at all levels has shown me nothimg but failure in my life. Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, false murder comviction of my friend, nothing but failure yet we still have idiots who think thos government can be trusted with our health care. I hope a roman candle burns the white house to the ground. Tome to replace this entire disfunctional government, starting with this unamerican president.

    July 3, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chuck

      The oil spill wasn't our gov it was BP (British Petroleum) and how is a gov responsible for a hurricane?!?! Better hope it DOESN'T burn to the ground because you'd like Mexicos gov less.

      July 4, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Hamsta

      Congragulations chuck you have won the idiot of the month award. I didn't blame the government for Katrina or the oil spill, but you must be listening to your beloved blamer in chief who made the oil spill response even more pathetic than bush's response to katrina. Can you believe the obama administration stopped people from rescuing animals because they didn't have the right paperwork while the govermment did absolutely nothing for nearly a month?

      July 4, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Hamsta

      By the way chuck, the government did absolutely nothing for me during katrina other than bus in mexican gangs, take my guns from me and leave me defenseless against gangs and looters. For the oil spill the government didn't do anything for either, but british petroleum did pay for my time lost at work, and I would have been paid more had the governmemt not hired a couple of thousand people to redistribute the money

      July 4, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. dazzle ©

    @little mister, I applaud you as well and I wish the same for the news.

    July 3, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. 22X Richer

    Did someone actually state in this article that heat makes FIREworks more risky? Do ya think?!

    July 4, 2012 at 6:20 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Dinkus McGee

    the standard brain of a US citizen today is simply not intelligent enought to think common sense on its own. We live in an age of ignorance and people simply should be exempt from being able to purchase fireworks. They are presently not smart enough to set them off!

    July 4, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Eric

    Always remember not to place fireworks in the garbage at least for a day or better. I leave gathered in the drive way or pot so any embers are totally exstinquished. Water is a good way as well.
    I also light fireworks in the drive and not on the lawn.

    July 4, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Eric

    I think ever state should allow the sale of fireworks my hope is that my home state will pass the bill for safe and sane in ny. Gov Como are you listening? I have been using fireworks for years with out injury. Remember any small story of injury is always blown out of proportion to gaine readers.

    July 4, 2012 at 7:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ThisJustin77

    Happy 4th of July everybody, from an American working in Korea.

    July 4, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. blackhawkmom

    I hope all the idiots out there quit firing off personal fireworks. Geez.

    July 4, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. dotheflippinmath

    To hamster and others like you, a good, patriotic American, does not call our president "unamerican" nor hope that our venerable White House burns to the ground. Be glad you live in a country that allows you the freedom of speech. Now, be smart and keep your thoughts to yourself, and stop 'dissing the President. He's a good, honest freedom-loving American. He also is not responsible for Iraq, Afganistan, or our huge national debt, caused by years of outsourcing middle-class jobs to 3rd world countries and then starting wars w/2 countries. With all the unemployment and underemployment, Obamacare will at least make sure you get your fingers sewn back on after you blow them off on the 4th....if you can find them (hint: check your nostrils – that's where they usually are).

    July 4, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hamsta

      Ya if you are willing to go throigh the red tape and government bureacracy to get them sewn back on. Say good bye to the finest health care system in the world. I saw first hand how counterproducti e and against progress the government is when they stopped people from rescuing animals from the oil spill and turned aid away during the katrina aftermath because of paperwork while government officials did absolutely nothing for an entire month in each case. If you think government can be trusted with health care, you sir are an idiot. You may as well elect the grim reaper as chairman of the board. I hope the government gives you the same bureacracy and red tape when you need emergency heart surgery because your pathetically stupod soul won't learn until you meet the grim reaper.

      July 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hamsta

      And don't forget Indepence Day was America's response to tyrannical, oppressive, intrusive, over reaching, and over taxing government. Wait a second thay descrobes Obama, so there you have it, Obama is the most unamerican president in history. Point proven with historical fact.

      July 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |

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