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Canada Day Weekend: Fireworks Safety

By: Dale Orlando and Nicole Fielding, Summer Student

Fireworks

The Canada Day weekend is fast approaching, and with this year being Canada’s 150th birthday, it is a special time to celebrate. Fireworks can be a fun and exciting activity to enjoy with family and friends, but they can also be dangerous and unpredictable when handled incorrectly. Improper use of pyrotechnics can result in serious burns and personal injuries. If you choose to host your own fireworks show, there are a number of things to keep in mind to ensure a fun and safe fireworks display.

Planning Ahead

Before you pick up your own fireworks, it is a good idea to check out the bylaws in your area concerning their use. The Government of Canada, Provinces and many Municipalities have set restrictions on when and where fireworks may be enjoyed.  For example, in Toronto, fireworks displays/discharges must comply with the City of Toronto fireworks bylaw, and fireworks may only be used without a permit on designated holidays.

When obtaining fireworks, purchase them from a reliable source that sells products meeting safety standards. Some Municipalities issue vendor permits to regulated retailers. Steer clear from illegal explosives or firecrackers, and do not attempt to create your own.

Consumer fireworks cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18.

Prepare Your Display

Location is critical when it comes to setting off fireworks. Set up your supplies in a clear, open space, away from combustible materials and hazards, on a hard, flat and level surface to ensure stability. Always read the instructions, cautions and warnings on the fireworks you have purchased.

Arrange spectators a safe distance away from the set-off location, and be sure that any wind is blowing away from your audience. Discharge fireworks only if weather conditions allow for it.

Before igniting, fireworks should be buried at least half their length in a bucket of sand if a firing base is not available. Never discharge fireworks from a metal or glass container. Be sure that all the fireworks are firmly supported in their base or sand, and aimed straight and away from your audience. Always keep a water hose or a pail or water close by when discharging fireworks.

Natural Resources Canada has issued a short video about fireworks safety which can be viewed here.

Protect Yourself and Your Family

When setting off your fireworks, light only one firework item at a time. Always light the fuse at the tip, and light the firework at arms length, then stand back. If you get a “dud” or defective firework, never attempt to re-light it, and wait 30 minutes to ensure it does not go off.

Only a responsible adult should be handling fireworks. Always keep fireworks out of reach of children, and store them in a space that is inaccessible to younger members of your family.

Sparklers burn extremely hot, and can cause clothing to catch fire, cause blindness or result in severe burns. If choosing to include sparklers in the celebration, remember to keep these away from young children. Sparklers should be doused in water or immersed in a bucket of sand after burning out, as they remain hot for some time.

Sometimes, the safest and most stress-free way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a show handled by professionals. There might be events hosted in your community being overseen by a trained, certified professional. Check out the Government of Canada’s list of Canada Day celebrations happening near you.

If you or someone you know has suffered burns or other serious injuries as the result of an accident, contact one of the critical injury lawyers at McLeish Orlando LLP for a free consultation.