Canada Day and fireworks go hand in hand. What better way to celebrate the independence of our nation than by lighting up the skies above it? But, as is the case with any form of explosives or flammable objects, there are certain risks that come into play that need to be addressed.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to let professionals handle the lighting and fireworks displays. If you’re inclined to marvel at multi-coloured blasts of stars and sparkles dashing across the sky, attend a pre-planned display. Keeping a safe distance between yourself and the fireworks’ launch point serves to keep you and your family protected, but it also ensures that the only ones handling the dangerous elements are those who are trained and have professional experience.
That said, if you do end up purchasing fireworks for personal use, take care when purchasing them. Trust only reliable sources that adhere to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) safety standards. Avoid any fireworks that don’t have any indicator that they’ve undergone safety testing, and never – NEVER – make your own fireworks. Leave the packaging and creation to the experts and to those who have extensive training on the subject.
It’s also important to know and obey any municipal by-laws regarding the fireworks. Nothing ruins a celebration faster than an official visit and a fine from by-law officers.
Here are some tips to follow throughout the firework process, from setting up to disposal.
- The first thing you should do is read the instructions and warnings on the fireworks. They exist for a reason.
- If you have any leftover fireworks, store them in their original package, in a cool place out of child’s reach, and keep them away from those that are going to be lit.
- Set up the fireworks outdoors in a clear, open space. Light fireworks on a hard, flat and level surface to ensure stability, ensuring that the wind is blowing away from the spectators. This reduces the odds of a spark or firework landing among the viewers.
- Keep a careful watch on any children who are present, keeping them away from the fireworks by at least the minimum distance specified in the instructions.
- Prior to starting the show, gather a bucket of sand, a supply of water and a working fire extinguisher and keep them on hand as a preventative measure.
- Avoid smoking near fireworks.
- Only unimpaired adults (18 years or older) should be handling fireworks.
- Only light one firework at a time.
- Wear protective equipment, including eye glasses and gloves. Hold the firework item at arm’s length before lighting it, then stand back. Never hold a lit firework.
- Keep hair and clothing as far away from lit fireworks as possible, so as to stop either from accidentally catching fire and igniting. For the same reason, never lean over fireworks.
- If a firework is a dud or does not work properly, never attempt to re-light it. Discard the firework and dispose of it using the below tips.
- Soaking fireworks in water before throwing them out will help prevent accidental ignition.
- Sparklers can remain hot for a long time after being lit. Dunk them in a bucket of sand while they cool down, until they’re cool enough to dispose of safely.
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Canada Day is also a great time to have friends, family and neighbours around to enjoy the weather, food and libations. As a host, remember that it is your responsibility to ensure the safe arrival of your guests back to their homes. And while this includes preventing drunk driving – whether through confiscating keys, calling a taxi, offering a place to sleep for the night or merely waiting for your guests to sober up – there are preventative measures that can be taken ahead of time.
First, it always helps to meet and greet guests at the door, so you can determine their behaviour and demeanour, as well as whether they’ve been drinking prior to arrival. This will help you determine who you should keep an eye on, if anyone, and will make it easier to track behavioural changes.
Of course, this will be much easier if you, the host, are limiting your own consumption – your judgment will be less impaired, making it easier to tell if someone is putting themselves in a dangerous position.
Serve foods high in fat and protein, keeping in mind that sugar tends to make the effects of drinking more pronounced, while salt encourages more drinking. Offering non-alcoholic alternatives, such as fruit punch, soft drinks and water can temper your guests’ drinking tendencies.
In an absolute worst-case scenario where your guests have drank too much and will neither give you their keys, stay the night or accept a taxi ride, call the police. It’s an uncomfortable situation, but an upset friend is always preferable to a potential car crash causing injury – or worse.
The Canada Safety Council wishes you a happy and safe Canada Day!