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Whether you fancy yourself as something of a fireworks connoisseur, or are completely green in the art of setting things on fire, Victoria Day seems like the perfect time to light some up, doesn’t it? But with great boom-power comes great responsibility, as a certain neighbourhood-watch fellow would say. If you’re going to be the street’s pyrotechnical representative this weekend, there are a few safety tips to keep in mind.

First of all, Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services never recommends family fun fireworks time on the streets. Instead, it encourages people to attend shows put on by their local municipalities. And really, you’d be saving yourself a few bucks by enjoying the show from your lawn chairs.

But the Ministry doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it also recognizes that people are going to go ahead and blast off on the holiday anyhow, so they’d like us all to be as safe as possible by trying to follow the recommended safety guidelines. (You might think most of these are common sense; tell that to the guy who stuffed a roman candle down his pants for a laugh.)

Put someone in charge

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“Only adults who are aware of the hazards and essential safety precautions should handle and discharge fireworks,” says the Ministry. Translation? No kiddies should go near the actual fireworks, please and thanks.

Follow the instructions

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That means reading and following the label directions on the fireworks packaging in full. Now isn’t the time to wing it.

Bust out the water

Whether its a water hose (that’s connected and ready to go) or a pail of water, keep something close by in case of any accidents, says the Ministry.

Get in the clear

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A school yard or forest isn’t exactly the best spot to light up your fireworks. Be sure to stay clear of buildings, trees and dry grass — that last one is a biggie, according to the Ministry, and something not a lot of people consider when scouting a location.

Manage the crowd

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Thinking of hosting a small fireworks party? “Keep onlookers a safe distance away, upwind from the area where fireworks are discharged.”

Go slow and steady

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It’s easy to become overexcited about your display, but it’s important to remember to stick to lighting one firework at a time. And ONLY when they’re on the ground. “Never try to light a firework in your hand or re-light dud fireworks,” the Ministry cautions.

Speaking of duds, what do you do if a firework doesn’t light? Wait 30 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water. Be sure to throw it out in a metal container.

Check the weather

Gusting wind does not a safe fireworks-lighting space make. If there are wind conditions, it’s best to call the show off.

Sparklers are more dangerous than you’d think

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“Sparklers burn extremely hot and can ignite clothing, cause blindness and result in severe burns,” the Ministry cautions. As such, it’s best to keep them away from children, and to soak those hot metal rods in water immediately after lighting in order to avoid injury. If your child DOES end up handling a sparkler, be sure to watch him/her at all times and instruct them on how to safely enjoy.

Have a plan in case of an accident

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If someone does get burned, run cool water over the wound for three to five minutes, and be sure to seek medical attention if the situation requires it.

Happy Victoria Day, Canada!

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