Who doesn’t love fireworks? They’re a great way to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years. Gathering outdoors is more COVID-safe too.
But throwing your own fireworks party isn’t as simple as just lighting the fuses and stepping back — not if you want to do it safely. First, you need enough room to get everyone who’s watching the fireworks back at a safe distance from the firing line, so that hot debris doesn’t fall on their heads.
You also need enough space beyond the firing line for fallout to land without risking damage to nearby structures. You need to be prepared to put out a fire if one starts. And you need to make sure your fireworks are properly stabilized before you ignite them. Here’s how to throw a fireworks party that’ll keep your guests talking for years.
You need a bit of property in order to successfully throw a fireworks party at home. How much space is required? That really depends on the fireworks you’re lighting. The higher up in the air your fireworks will fly, the more space you’re going to need so that your audience can watch from a safe distance and so hot fireworks debris can fall safely without starting a fire. About 400 square feet is an adequate amount of space, but the more room you have, the better.
Spectators should put one and a half times the distance of your highest firework’s height between themselves and the firing line. You should always put your audience upwind of your firing line, so that the wind doesn’t blow hot sparks in their direction.
Ideally, you’ll have enough space that you can adjust your firing area according to how the wind is blowing on the night when you plan to set off your fireworks. If you’re getting any more than a stiff breeze though, it’s too windy for fireworks — a strong wind can blow sparks far outside your planned firing area.
Behind your firing line, you need to leave space for a fallout zone. Your aerial fireworks will spread for dozens of feet across the sky, so you need to have a clear space around and behind your firing line so that debris can safely fall.
Make it larger than the distance between your audience and your firing line — one-third again as much, or even half again as much. Make sure there isn’t anything above the fallout zone, like tree branches or power lines, and of course make sure your fallout zone is free of flammable items like structures and wood piles.
Be Prepared to Douse Any Flames
Fireworks can easily start fires, so make sure you’re ready to leap into action with a water hose or fire extinguisher if something catches. At the very least, have a couple buckets of water ready to go.
Have a heavy blanket — or even a purpose-made fire blanket — nearby in case someone’s clothes or hair catches. Even if nothing catches on fire during the show, you should be prepared to soak the spent fireworks (and any that were duds) at the end of the night.
Build a Mounting Rack
You don’t necessarily need to build your own fireworks mounting rack — retailers like Red Apple Fireworks sell premade mounting racks. But if you have some spare lumber lying around and you know how to use a cordless drill, you can build your own.
Your mounting rack should be large enough to stabilize all of your cakes, tubes, mortars, and skyrockets, so grab a large piece of plywood. It should be a minimum of two feet wide by eight feet long, so you have room to line up all your fireworks.
To make the rack easier to manage when carrying it and picking it up, screw some scraps of two-by-six, -four, or -two inch lumber to the bottom of the plywood, and screw your fireworks to the top.
Drive the screws at an angle through the base of the fireworks. There’s a clay plug there so you shouldn’t worry about damaging the pyrotechnics. Place your rack with the short side towards the audience, and mount your fireworks down the long side.
Paint a Beautiful Picture in the Sky
Arrange your fireworks on the rack in the order you want to fire them. You may want to familiarize yourself somewhat with how the different effects look so you can plan a dynamic show that offers plenty of visual interest, and arrange your fireworks so that the effects compliment one another.
If you’re looking for an excuse to celebrate the holidays outdoors this year, you can’t go wrong with a home fireworks show. As long as you have enough room to light off fireworks safely, you can dazzle your family and friends with a spectacular and memorable pyrotechnics display.