Ounce of Prevention

Canada Day Firework Safety

We are just days away from the annual summer celebration of Canada’s birthday on July 1st. All around the country friends and families are planning their festivities, which typically include the great outdoors and all it has to offer. Parks and pools will be packed with revellers enjoying what we all hope will be a hot and sunny day. If you are like most people, your party planning will not include the hospital emergency room. However, the reality is that too many people will end up there as a result of misusing fireworks.

Who doesn’t love an exciting night sky brimming with colourful and coordinated explosions?Enjoying the mastery of professional technicians is certainly the way to go but if you insist on purchasing fireworks at your local store (where permitted) make sure you follow the instructions as well as good commonsense – these are explosive devices after all. The Canada Safety Council has provided the following safety information on fireworks use:


  • Follow the laws and regulations regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Purchase your fireworks from a reliable source that sells products meeting safety standards.
  • Stay away from illegal explosives or firecrackers and do not improvise and make your own fireworks.

Setting Up:

  • Read the Instructions, this is worth repeating: read the instructions, cautions and warnings on each firework item.
  • Store unused fireworks in a closed box away from the firework being lit and do not smoke around the fireworks.
  • Set up outdoors in a clear, open space. Light fireworks on a hard, flat and level surface to insure stability.
  • Check the wind and have the wind blowing away from the spectators.
  • Spectators should be at least 25 feet away from display, keeping special supervision on children.
  • Have a bucket of sand, supply of water and a working fire extinguisher on hand.

Fireworks Show:

  • Only adults (18 years or over) should handle the fireworks. If you are impaired (alcohol or drugs) do not handle the fireworks.
  • Light only one firework item at a time.
  • Wear protective eye glasses and gloves.
  • Light at arm’s length and then stand back.
  • Never lean over the fireworks and keep hair and clothes away from fire sources.
  • Never attempt to re-light a “dud” or defective firework.
  • Never hold a lighted firework item in your hand.

Proper Disposal:

  • Sparklers should be immersed in a bucket of sand to cool down after burning out, as they remain very hot for some time.
  • Fireworks should be disposed of safely and properly.

(Source: Canada Safety Council)

Read more: http://safety-council.org/news/archives/fireworks-safety-tips/

The dangers of fireworks:

  • 8,000 children are injured in North America each year and 20 people will die.
  • The most frequent injuries are burns to the hands and face.
  • About 120 amputations occur annually to the hands and fingers.
  • Permanent blindness occurs in about one-third of eye injuries.
  • Injuries include permanent hearing loss in children resulting from a single exposure to a high-level impulsive sound.
  • In one year, about 51,000 fires resulted in $36 million in property damage in North America.
  • Five to 10 children come to B.C. Children’s Hospital with fireworks injuries every year.
  • A seemingly harmless sparkler can burn as hot as 982 C and will not extinguish when placed in a container of water.
  • The WHO has recommended a worldwide ban on manufacturing.
  • There are no standards in North America regarding manufacturing.
  • Many devices are manufactured overseas with little or no quality control.

(Source: B.C.’s Children’s Hospital report)

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/10/30/bc-fireworksinjuries.html#ixzz0s9oRntAm

About the author


Injury Prevention Team