Fireworks Are Not Toys! Celebrate Safely

Jun. 26, 2019

In 2018, New Jersey enacted legislation that made “non-aerial fireworks” such as hand-held sparklers, ground-based sparklers, poppers, and snappers legal in the state.

It should be noted that Princeton University policy prohibits the use of any fireworks or pyrotechnics device at the University. The use of such devices is only permitted when a fire safety permit is granted under the New Jersey State Fire Code.

By Scott W. Loh, University Fire Marshal

That said, you may choose to utilize the legally approved devices when not at the University. Please do so with an abundance of caution and follow fireworks safety guidelines. It is important to remember that any fireworks are inherently dangerous because they can burn people, animals, and property.

Sparklers can be an invitation to personal injury and should not be treated as toys for children. In fact, one sparkler can reach about 1,200˚F, which can cause third degree burns and serious eye injury to anyone handling it. As indicated by the graphic from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “Sparklers alone account for more than one-quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.” 

Fires are another result of the use of fireworks. According to the NFPA, on Independence Day in a typical year, far more fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other causes of fire. The Association reports that on average each year, fireworks cause an estimated 18,500 reported fires: 1,300 total structural fires; 300 vehicle fires; and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires cause an annual average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries and an estimated $43 million in direct property damage.

If you want to enjoy fireworks, I urge you to contact your municipality or county to find out when public fireworks displays are scheduled. These displays are conducted by professionals and are a great way to safely celebrate the holidays.

Fireworks Safety Guidelines

In the event one decides to use non-aerial fireworks, please follow these safely guidelines provided by the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety as well as any guidelines provided by the device manufacturer:

  • Only buy from reputable places;
  • Don’t buy if packaging is damaged or appears tampered with;
  • Don’t try and “fix” broken or “dud” fireworks;
  • Never use indoors;
  • Don’t use in very windy or dry conditions;
  • Always have water handy and follow manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Never relight a “dud” firework;
  • Never aim a firework at yourself, another person, animals, or buildings;
  • Wait 20 minutes to dispose of properly.
  • When disposing of fireworks, completely soak used or “dud” fireworks in a bucket of water and allow them to soak overnight. Then double wrap the soaked fireworks in plastic wrap or a plastic bag to help keep them from drying out and place the wrapped fireworks in regular household garbage.

Fireworks displays must be enjoyed responsibly – and within the confines of the law. If you choose to celebrate using these devices, don’t let your celebration become a tragedy, celebrate safely!

Fireworks Graphic

U.S. hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks-related injuries in 2017. Sparklers alone account for more than one-quarter of these. Source: National Fire Protection Association