Safety Tips for Setting off Fireworks

Like many Canadians, fireworks and sparklers may be lighting up your night this Canada Day. And if you're hosting your own home fireworks display, a quick call to your home insurance provider to make sure you're covered—just in case—would be a bright idea as well. Because, as careful as you're going to be, sometimes things simply go wrong: wayward fireworks can cause injury or result in damages to your home or neighbouring properties.

Fireworks Safety Tips

Minimize the chance of injury or property damage this Canada Day with these firework safety tips:

  • Check with your town's local bylaws to confirm if fireworks are legal, and if they are, when and where they can be set off. Some cities, like Calgary and Edmonton for example, specifically prohibit fireworks unless you have a permit. While others, like Toronto, state that fireworks are allowed on private property without a permit, but only on Victoria Day or Canada Day.
  • Buy fireworks from a reliable retailer.
  • Do not allow children to handle or set off fireworks, and watch them closely if they'll be given sparklers.
  • Carefully read and follow the label directions on fireworks packaging and pay close attention to cautions and warnings.
  • Set up your fireworks outdoors, in a clear, open space away from buildings, trees and dry grass.
  • Keep spectators a safe distance away from the area where the fireworks will be set off.
  • Always keep a water hose and several pails of water close by.
  • To ignite your fireworks, don't use a lighter or matches. Instead, use an igniter stick that is designed specifically for setting of fireworks.
  • Wear protective glasses and never lean over the fireworks. Keep your hair and clothes away from the firework, or the fire source being used to light it.
  • Do not ignite fireworks when it's windy as they may not go where you expect them to go.
  • If you're impaired (alcohol or drugs), do not handle fireworks.
  • Light fireworks on a hard, flat and level surface. Ignite them at arm's length, standing back and keeping your face away.
  • Light only one firework at a time and only when they are on the ground. Never try to light a firework in your hand or re-light dud fireworks.
  • For duds, wait 30 minutes and then soak them in a bucket of water. Sparklers, when burned out, should be doused in water too.
  • Place all spent fireworks, as well as any debris, in a bucket of water before tossing them in the garbage.
  • If someone gets burned, run cool water over the wound for at least 10 minutes and seek medical attention, if necessary.

Fireworks and your home insurance

If your backyard fireworks show damages your home or a neighbour's property, your home insurance policy would typically cover the damages. The same is true if someone is injured; your policy's liability coverage would provide financial protection in the event you are sued. But, it's important to first make sure that fireworks are not banned where you live, because if they are—and you go on with the show—home insurance policies typically exclude damages resulting from illegal activities. Check in with the local authorities and your home insurance provider before lighting up the sky.

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Fireworks are a blast, but only if you celebrate the Canada Day weekend safely. Stay safe, and have a great Canada Day long weekend.

Firework safety tip sources: Canada Safety Council, Natural Resources Canada and Toronto Fire Services. Article updated regularly to ensure relevancy.

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