Fireworks are a beautiful sight to behold and a staple of many celebrations worldwide.
From Independence Day in the United States to Diwali in India, fireworks have become synonymous with celebration and excitement.
However, with the excitement comes concern about their safety. Many people wonder whether fireworks can cause fires and pose a risk to their surroundings.
This blog will delve deeper into this topic and explore the relationship between fireworks and fires.
- 1 What Are Fireworks
- 2 Do Fireworks Cause Fires
- 3 How to Prevent Fireworks Fires
- 4 What Percentage Of Fires Are Started By Fireworks
- 5 Cause Of Fireworks Fires
- 6 Firework Hazards
- 7 Are Fireworks Fumes Toxic
- 8 Fireworks Cause Forest Fire
- 9 Can Fireworks Cause A House Fire?
- 10 What Happens If A Firework Hits Your House
- 11 Harmful Effects Of Fireworks On Animals
- 12 Firework Safety Tips
- 13 Conclusion
What Are Fireworks
Fireworks are a type of explosive pyrotechnic device primarily used for entertainment.
They are commonly associated with celebrations such as New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, and other festive events.
Fireworks typically contain chemicals and components that create colorful lights, loud noises, and various visual effects when ignited. The basic components of a firework include:
Shell: This is the outer casing of the firework, typically made of paper or cardboard, which contains all the other components.
Fuse: The fuse is a small cord or wire attached to the shell. It carries the ignition flame to the main explosive charge.
Lift charge: The lift charge is a small explosive that propels the firework into the air when ignited. It creates the initial thrust needed to launch the firework.
Burst charge: The burst charge is the main explosive charge inside the firework shell. It is responsible for creating the colorful explosion and various effects.
Stars: Stars are small, compact pellets or balls containing different chemical compounds that produce the colors and effects in fireworks. These chemicals, when ignited, burn and release energy in the form of light and heat, creating the visual display.
Binders: Binders are substances that hold the chemicals together in the firework’s composition. They ensure that the stars and other components stay intact until ignited.
When a firework is ignited, the fuse ignites the lift charge, propelling the firework into the air. As the firework ascends, the lift charge is followed by the burst charge.
Once the firework reaches its intended height, the burst charge explodes, dispersing the stars and other effects in the sky.
Fireworks can produce many effects, including bright flashes, sparkling trails, whistles, crackling sounds, and patterns such as flowers, palm trees, and willows.
The specific chemicals used in fireworks determine the colors and effects produced.
Do Fireworks Cause Fires
One of the most common ways fireworks can cause fires is by landing on dry grass, leaves, or other combustible materials.
The heat from the fireworks can ignite these materials, leading to a fire that can quickly spread.
This is why it is important always to set off fireworks in open areas and to clear away any potential fire hazards beforehand.
Another way that fireworks can cause fires is by falling onto roofs or other structures. This is especially true for aerial fireworks, which shoot up into the sky and then explode.
If one of these fireworks were to fall onto a roof, it could easily start a fire that could quickly spread throughout the structure.
Fireworks can also cause fires if they malfunction. If a firework does not explode properly, falls to the ground, or lands on a structure, it can still ignite a fire.
This is why it is essential to only purchase fireworks from reputable sources and never to try to make your fireworks.
How to Prevent Fireworks Fires
Preventing fireworks fires is crucial for ensuring the safety of people and property. Here are some important tips to help minimize the risk of firework-related fires:
Follow local laws and regulations: Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations regarding fireworks in your area. Only use fireworks that are legal and approved for use.
Purchase fireworks from reputable sources: Buy fireworks from licensed and authorized vendors to ensure their quality and compliance with safety standards.
Choose a safe location: Set off fireworks in a clear, open area away from buildings, dry vegetation, and other flammable materials.
Select a location that provides enough space for the fireworks to explode safely and maintain a safe distance from spectators.
Clear the area: Remove debris, dry leaves, or flammable objects from the launch site to minimize the fire risk.
Ensure there are no low-hanging branches or overhead obstructions.
Follow proper lighting procedures: Read and understand the instructions provided by the firework manufacturer. Use a proper ignition source like a long lighter or punk to light fireworks, maintaining a safe distance from your body and face.
Never relight malfunctioning fireworks: If a firework fails to ignite or doesn’t go off, do not attempt to relight it. Wait for at least 20 minutes, then soak it in water to ensure it is completely extinguished.
Supervise children: Children should not handle or ignite fireworks. Ensure they are safe from the launch site and closely supervised by responsible adults.
Stay sober: Never handle fireworks while under alcohol or drugs. Impaired judgment and coordination increase the risk of accidents.
Be prepared for emergencies: In case of a fire, have an emergency plan. Keep emergency contact numbers readily available and know how to respond to a fire incident.
Remember, fireworks can be dangerous, and always prioritizing safety is essential. If you’re unsure about handling fireworks or want to enjoy a firework display, it’s best to attend public fireworks shows conducted by trained professionals.
What Percentage Of Fires Are Started By Fireworks
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fireworks caused an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018.
Of these, 1,900 were structure fires, 500 were vehicle fires, and 17,100 were outside or other types of fires.
The total number of fires caused by fireworks in 2018 was down from 2017 when fireworks caused 19,500 fires. This decrease was because many communities had banned fireworks due to the risk of wildfires.
Regarding the percentage of fires caused by fireworks, it’s important to note that fireworks are not the only cause.
The NFPA reports that 2018 fireworks accounted for just 5% of all reported fires. Most fires are caused by cooking, heating, and electrical equipment.
However, it’s worth noting that while fireworks may only account for a small percentage of fires, they are responsible for a disproportionate amount of property damage and injuries.
In 2018, fireworks caused $105 million in direct property damage, and an estimated 9,100 emergency department-treated injuries were associated with fireworks.
The NFPA recommends that the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.
Fireworks should never be used indoors, and they should always be used in an open area away from buildings, vehicles, and other flammable materials.
Children should never handle fireworks, and adults should always supervise fireworks.
Cause Of Fireworks Fires
Various factors can cause fireworks fires, and it’s important to be aware of them to prevent accidents and minimize fire risk. Here are some common causes of fireworks fires:
Improper use or mishandling: One of the leading causes of firework fires is the improper use or mishandling of fireworks.
This includes not following safety instructions, attempting to modify fireworks, or using them recklessly or carelessly.
Igniting fireworks too close to buildings, dry vegetation, or other flammable materials can quickly lead to fires.
Malfunctioning fireworks: Sometimes, fireworks can malfunction, resulting in unintended or delayed ignition.
Malfunctioning fireworks may explode at ground level or shoot off in unpredictable directions, increasing the risk of fires.
Sparks and embers: Fireworks produce sparks, embers, and hot debris during their ignition and explosion. If these hot materials land on flammable surfaces, such as dry grass, leaves, or roofs, they can start fires.
Windy conditions can also carry sparks and embers over longer distances, increasing the risk of fire spread.
Proximity to structures: Setting off fireworks too close to buildings, structures, or vehicles increases the chances of fire spread.
The fireworks’ heat, flames, or sparks can ignite nearby combustible materials, leading to structure fires.
During dry seasons or in areas prone to wildfires, the risk of fire spreading rapidly becomes even greater.
Illegal fireworks or homemade devices: Illegal or homemade fireworks can be particularly hazardous.
These may lack proper safety mechanisms, have unpredictable, explosive power, or contain unsafe components, increasing the risk of fires and accidents.
Insufficient clearance: Inadequate clearance around the launch site can contribute to fireworks fires.
If there are obstacles, buildings, or flammable materials near where fireworks are launched, the risk of fires spreading becomes significantly higher.
Ignition sources: Careless disposal of used fireworks or improper storage can lead to accidental fires.
Discarded fireworks still hot or smoldering can ignite nearby combustible materials if not properly extinguished.
Storing fireworks near flammable substances can also increase the risk of fires if a spark or flame comes into contact with them.
If improperly handled, fireworks present hazards that can lead to accidents, injuries, and property damage.
It’s important to be aware of these hazards to ensure safety. Here are some common fireworks hazards:
Burns and injuries: Fireworks can cause severe burns and injuries if mishandled or if individuals are near the explosion.
The intense heat, flames, and sparks produced by fireworks can cause skin, eyes, and other body parts burns.
Additionally, fireworks can explode prematurely or unpredictably, leading to injuries from flying debris.
Fire hazards: Fireworks are inherently fire hazards. Sparks, embers, and hot debris produced by fireworks can ignite flammable materials such as dry grass, leaves, trees, and structures.
Firework-related fires can quickly spread and cause significant damage to property and the surrounding environment.
Eye injuries: Fireworks can cause serious injuries, including corneal abrasions, retinal detachments, and even permanent vision loss.
This can occur due to direct contact with sparks or debris or from the intense light emitted by fireworks.
Auditory hazards: Fireworks produce loud noises when they explode. Exposure to loud noises from fireworks at close range can damage hearing, leading to temporary or permanent hearing loss.
It is important to protect the ears, especially those sensitive to loud sounds or pre-existing hearing conditions.
Chemical hazards: Fireworks contain various chemicals, such as propellants, colorants, and binders.
Mishandling fireworks or inhaling the smoke or fumes produced by fireworks can expose individuals to toxic or irritant substances, which may cause respiratory problems, allergic reactions, or other health issues.
Unstable or malfunctioning fireworks: Fireworks can be unstable or malfunction due to manufacturing defects, improper storage, or handling.
Unstable fireworks may explode prematurely, unexpectedly, or in unintended directions, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
Falling debris: Firework debris, such as spent casings or unexploded portions, can fall to the ground or on nearby structures.
If someone is hit by falling debris, it can cause injuries or pose a fire risk if it lands on flammable materials.
Safety risks for children: Fireworks can be particularly hazardous for children. Children may not understand the potential dangers or have the coordination or judgment to handle fireworks safely.
Supervision by responsible adults is essential to prevent accidents and injuries involving children and fireworks.
Are Fireworks Fumes Toxic
The short answer is yes. Fireworks fumes can be toxic. Fireworks are made up of various chemicals that, when ignited, create a reaction that produces the bright colors and explosive sounds we associate with these displays.
Some of these chemicals are known to harm human health and the environment.
One of the main chemicals used in fireworks is perchlorate.
Perchlorate has been linked to thyroid problems, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, and has been found in drinking water in areas where fireworks displays are common.
Other chemicals used in fireworks include heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and mercury, which can be toxic to humans and animals.
In addition to the chemicals used to create the fireworks, the smoke, and particulate matter created by the explosions can also be harmful.
Exposure to these fumes can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat and can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis.
The particulate matter can also settle on surfaces and in water sources, potentially contaminating them with harmful chemicals.
Fireworks Cause Forest Fire
Yes, fireworks can cause forest fires if used irresponsibly or in areas with high fire risks.
The sparks, embers, and hot debris produced by fireworks can ignite dry vegetation, such as grass, shrubs, or trees, leading to the rapid spread of fire in forested areas.
Forest fires can be extremely dangerous, causing significant damage to ecosystems, wildlife habitats, and property and posing risks to human lives and safety.
To prevent firework-related forest fires, it is crucial to follow these guidelines:
Check local regulations: Before using fireworks in or near forested areas, check local laws, regulations, and any current fire restrictions or bans.
Authorities often impose restrictions on fireworks during periods of high fire danger.
Choose safe locations: Set fireworks in open areas away from forests, dry vegetation, or other flammable materials.
Select a location that provides a significant buffer zone and minimizes the risk of fire spreading into the surrounding environment.
Be mindful of weather conditions: Avoid using fireworks during dry, hot, or windy weather conditions. Dry vegetation and strong winds can quickly spread fires and make it difficult to control them.
Clear the area: Remove dry leaves, grass, and other flammable debris from the launch site and its surroundings.
Creating a clear zone free from combustible materials helps reduce the risk of fire starting or spreading.
Have fire safety equipment ready: Keep a bucket of water, a hose, or a fire extinguisher nearby when using fireworks in forested areas.
This allows you to quickly extinguish any sparks, embers, or small fires that may occur.
Consider alternatives: Instead of using fireworks in forested areas, consider attending public fireworks displays conducted by professionals in designated, controlled locations.
These displays are typically designed with safety measures and are less likely to pose a risk of forest fires.
Report suspicious activities: If you observe individuals using fireworks irresponsibly or notice a fire starting due to fireworks, immediately report it to local authorities.
Prompt action can help prevent the fire from spreading and causing further damage.
Can Fireworks Cause A House Fire?
The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Fireworks can cause a house fire if they are not used properly.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fireworks were responsible for an estimated 19,500 fires in the United States in 2018 alone.
These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage.
There are several ways that fireworks can start a house fire. One of the most common is landing on a roof or in a gutter.
Dry leaves, branches, and other debris can easily catch fire if they are hit by a spark or flame from a firework. Once a fire starts, it can quickly spread to the rest of the house.
Fireworks can also start fires if they are not properly extinguished. Even after a firework has gone off, it can still be hot and potentially start a fire if it lands in the wrong spot.
To ensure they are completely extinguished, it is important to soak used fireworks in water before disposing of them.
What Happens If A Firework Hits Your House
If a firework hits your house, it can cause various damages and pose risks to the structure, occupants, and surrounding property.
The severity of the damage depends on factors such as the size and type of firework, the location of impact, and the construction of the house. Here are some potential outcomes if a firework hits your house:
Fire: One of the primary concerns is the risk of fire. If a firework ignites upon impact, it can start a fire that may rapidly spread to other parts of the house.
The fire can cause extensive damage to the structure and possessions and pose a danger to the occupants.
Structural damage: The impact of a firework can cause physical damage to the house. It may break windows, damage siding, roof shingles, or even penetrate the structure, leading to structural compromise.
This can result in water leaks, exposure to the elements, and compromised safety.
Property damage: Fireworks hitting your house can damage personal property inside and outside. Interior damage may include broken windows, furniture, electronics, and belongings.
If parked nearby, exterior damage may include landscaping, outdoor structures, and vehicles.
Injuries: If someone is inside the house during the incident, there is a risk of injuries from flying debris, broken glass, or fire.
Depending on the severity of the impact and the proximity of individuals to the point of impact, injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to more severe trauma.
Smoke and soot damage: Even if a fire does not occur, the impact and explosion of a firework can release smoke and soot.
This can result in smoke damage and leave residue on surfaces, requiring extensive cleaning and restoration efforts.
If a firework hits your house, it is essential to prioritize safety:
Ensure the safety of all occupants by evacuating the house and moving to a safe location away from potential hazards.
Call emergency services like the fire department to report the incident and seek immediate assistance.
Please do not attempt to extinguish a fire caused by the firework unless you have been trained to do so and it is safe to proceed.
Document the damage caused by taking photographs or videos for insurance purposes.
Contact your insurance provider to report the incident and begin the claims process.
It’s worth noting that preventing firework-related incidents near your house, such as maintaining a safe distance and choosing appropriate launch locations, is crucial to minimize the risk of damage or injury.
Harmful Effects Of Fireworks On Animals
From pets to wildlife, the harmful effects of fireworks on animals cannot be ignored. Here are some of how fireworks can negatively impact animals:
1. Anxiety and Fear: Loud noises and bright light flashes can cause serious anxiety and fear in animals.
Dogs, cats, horses, and other animals can become extremely anxious and frightened, leading to destructive behavior like running away, hiding or even injuring themselves.
2. Physical Harm: The loud noise of fireworks can cause physical harm to animals, especially those with sensitive hearing.
Fireworks explosions can cause damage to an animal’s eardrums, leading to temporary or permanent hearing loss.
Additionally, fireworks debris can also cause injury to animals if ingested or stepped on.
3. Disturbance of Natural Habitat: Fireworks can disturb the natural habitat of wildlife, causing them to flee their homes in search of a safer location.
This can disrupt their mating, feeding, and nesting patterns, causing long-term harm to the wildlife population.
4. Stress-Related Illness: The stress caused by fireworks can also lead to animal stress-related illnesses. These illnesses can include digestive disorders, heart problems, and weakened immune systems.
5. Death: In extreme cases, fireworks can cause the death of animals. Birds, for instance, can be frightened by fireworks and fly into windows or other hard objects, leading to fatal injuries.
What You Can Do
As responsible pet owners and citizens, it’s important to take steps to minimize the harmful effects of fireworks on animals. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Keep Your Pets Indoors: The best way to protect your pets from the harmful effects of fireworks is to keep them indoors.
Please provide them with a safe, quiet and comfortable space to retreat to during the fireworks display.
2. Identification: Ensure your pets have proper identification, including a collar with tags and a microchip.
This will help ensure they can be easily reunited with you if they become lost or frightened during the fireworks display.
3. Medication: Consult your veterinarian about medication to help calm your pets during the fireworks display.
However, it’s important to note that medication should never be used as a substitute for proper care and attention.
4. Provide Distractions: Provide your pets with distractions like toys, treats or soothing music to help distract them from the noise and flashes of light.
5. Be Considerate: If you’re planning on setting off fireworks, be considerate of your neighbors and their pets. Inform them of your plans and keep the fireworks display short as possible.
Firework Safety Tips
Firework safety is paramount to prevent accidents, injuries, and property damage. If you plan to handle fireworks, follow these essential safety tips:
Know and follow local laws: Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations regarding fireworks in your area. Only use fireworks that are legal and approved for use.
Choose a safe location: Set off fireworks in a clear, open area away from buildings, dry vegetation, and other flammable materials.
Ensure there is enough space for the fireworks to explode and maintain a safe distance from spectators.
Read and follow instructions: Carefully read and understand the instructions provided by the firework manufacturer. Follow the recommended safety procedures and guidelines for each specific firework.
Adult supervision: Children should not handle or ignite fireworks. Ensure they are safe from the launch site and closely supervised by responsible adults.
Safety gear: Consider wearing safety glasses and gloves when handling fireworks to protect your eyes and hands from potential hazards.
One at a time: Light only one firework and maintain a safe distance from the ignited firework.
Use a suitable ignition source: Use a long lighter or punk to light fireworks. Maintain a safe distance from your body and face, and never lean over the firework while lighting it.
Back away quickly: Once a firework is lit, immediately move to a safe distance. Never attempt to relight or approach a firework that did not ignite or malfunction.
Keep a water source nearby: Have a bucket of water, a hose, or a fire extinguisher readily available in case of any accidents, sparks, or small fires. This can help quickly extinguish flames or embers.
Dispose of fireworks safely: After a firework has been used, douse it in water to ensure it is fully extinguished.
Dispose of used fireworks in a metal container, away from flammable materials, and only after they have cooled down completely.
Attend public displays: Consider attending public firework displays conducted by trained professionals. These displays are often safer and provide an opportunity to enjoy fireworks without the risks associated with personal handling.
Remember, fireworks can be dangerous, and safety should always be the top priority.
By following these safety tips and exercising caution, you can minimize the risks associated with fireworks and ensure a safer experience for everyone involved.
Fireworks have the potential to cause fires if not handled responsibly.
The sparks, embers, and hot debris produced by fireworks can ignite flammable materials such as dry vegetation, buildings, and other structures.
Additionally, mishandling fireworks or using them in inappropriate locations can increase the risk of fires.
It is crucial to follow local laws and regulations, choose safe launch sites, and have proper safety measures to prevent firework-related fires.
Attending public fireworks displays conducted by professionals is also a safer alternative.
By understanding the hazards and taking necessary precautions, we can enjoy fireworks while minimizing the risk of fires and promoting safety for everyone involved.
Hi, I m Aaron Smith, a firefighter, and creator of Firefighterline.com, a website that provides top-notch training courses for firefighting organizations. After completing my studies, I quickly rose through the fire service ranks, eventually becoming Captain at one of the busiest fire departments in the state.