Fireworks are a fun and beautiful way to celebrate outdoors, whether it’s the fourth of July or New Year’s Eve. But maybe your municipality isn’t having a fireworks show this year — or maybe you’re reluctant to attend due to COVID concerns.
That doesn’t mean you have to miss out. With the right equipment and enough space, you can put on a safe and fun fireworks show at your own home. Here’s what you need to know to make your fireworks party a success.
You Need Some Space for a Safe Fireworks Display
In order to light off fireworks safely at your own home, you need plenty of room for a debris field and to keep your crowd at a safe distance. Spectators should sit or stand at a distance that’s at least one-and-a-half times the total height of your highest aerial firework. If your highest firework reaches an altitude of 140 feet, you need to place your crowd at least 210 feet away from the firing line. You also need that much space on the other side of your firing line so that debris can fall safely. You shouldn’t be firing fireworks in the direction of people, structures, or flammable items like wood piles or dry grass.
Mount Fireworks Securely on a Rack
You should never hold fireworks in your hand while lighting them, and just putting them on the ground isn’t very safe either — while it might be fine for some fireworks, like cakes, many tubes, mortars, roman candles, and skyrockets could end up just falling over and firing straight into the crowd. Using a firework rack can keep fireworks in place while they’re firing, and it allows you to organize your display by screwing your fireworks to their wooden base in the order you wish to fire them. For the finale, you can light all the fuses at once to fill up the whole sky.
You can make a firework rack for cakes and single tubes by screwing some scrap two-by-four or two-by-six pieces to the bottom of a rectangle of plywood about two feet by eight feet long. Screw your fireworks directly to the plywood with screws driven through the clay plugs at the bottom of the tubes, or through the plastic base of those tubes that have them. For mortars, barrages, tubes, and roman candles, you can build a rack that allows you to set the tubes upright or even tilt them for more varied effects.
Wear Safety Gear and Have a Hose Handy
Fireworks can start fires if the sparks land on something flammable, so it’s best to have some water or a fire extinguisher to hand to douse any flames that erupt. Have a hose connected to your spigot and ready to turn on, or keep a bucket of water or two handy, if you don’t have a fire extinguisher.
You should also wear safety gear while lighting your fireworks — gloves, goggles, a hat, long sleeves, long sleeves, long pants and sturdy, close-toed shoes, preferably work boots. Choose 100 percent cotton fabrics since they’re naturally more flame resistant and won’t melt into your skin the way synthetic fabrics could.
Plan Your Display Carefully
Whether you’re buying your fireworks online or from a tent or retail store, you need to carefully consider the display you want to put on before you make your purchases. Familiarize yourself with some of the different firework effects and what they look like.
To keep your fireworks show interesting, avoid pummeling the audience with an uninterrupted barrage of overwhelming effects. Like any show, a fireworks show should have loud, dynamic moments, quiet lulls, artistry, and even some laughs. Mix and match the altitudes of your firework effects to create some dynamism and visual interest in the show. Hold the audience’s interest by bringing the tempo up, up, up, and then letting it back down again. Combine noise-making fireworks with dramatic effects to amp up the excitement. Set off lots of single fireworks at once to bring unexpected movement and interest into the show.
Save your best, biggest effects for your finale, when you can light off a range of different dazzling effects at different heights to create an interesting visual tableau. Large mortars, barrages, and cakes are all good choices for a strong finish to your fireworks display.
Hosting a fireworks party at home is a great way to celebrate the holidays and keep everyone safe from COVID, if that’s still a concern in your area. It only takes a little planning and a big enough space to safely discharge fireworks. You and your family could enjoy a show you’ll be talking about for years to come.