Fireworks Safety Reminders and Tips

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Now that fireworks are legal again in Iowa, people are worried about safety and misuse on and around this special holiday.

It’s especially important for Iowans to use fireworks properly because according to Clay County Heritage, a history museum in Spencer, the fire that caused the roughly 80 year ban happened when someone dropped a sparkler onto pile of fireworks, which exploded and caused the town to burn.

“When you’re lighting off fireworks you need to have a wide open space. You are required to stay a certain distance away from buildings and structures. You need to make sure you’re not lighting it off in an area with dry brush. You are lighting explosives. There are flames and you need to make sure you’re using common sense when you’re using fireworks,” owner of Iowa Fireworks Company Jeremiah Terhark said.

The Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office suggests lighting fireworks 100 yards or more away from buildings.

“You don’t really actually know where it’s going. You can intend for it to go in a certain direction and it doesn’t go in that direction and that’s where being 100 yards from a structure really helps out. If it does go in a direction you don’t want it to go, then with that buffer it doesn’t hit a structure and set it on fire,” Dan Wood with the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office said.

Even something as small as a sparkler can do a lot of damage.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals.

“It’s always important for parents to be with their kids if they are going to use sparklers,” Terhark said.

It’s important to have a bucket of water and some sand nearby to put out sparklers and the remains of other fireworks.

“If you light one off and it doesn’t actually go off or out of the tube, the best thing is to get rid of that and not try to relight it, not try to attach it to another firework and make it go off. If it’s truly a dud leave it alone and dispose of it properly,” Wood said.

Wood added, if water does not take care of it and you are worried about it going off later you can contact the bomb squad to come take care of it or for more advice on how to get rid of it.

Terhark said when you are lighting off fireworks it is important to step back 25 to 30 feet and not to approach it right away if it is a dud.

He added, bottle rockets are also really popular and come with important safety tips too.

“Never light it off and hold it in your hand, be very careful when you are setting these off. A lot of people have been using safety tubes that are available. You stick it in the ground and its a much safer way to light it off and step back a safe distance,” Terhark said.

Here’s when and where you can set them off:

Des Moines and West Des Moines: July 4 from 4 - 10 p.m.

Waukee: June 30 to July 8 from 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. On July 4, 9 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Ankeny: July 4 from 9 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Pleasant Hill: July 4 from noon - 11 p.m.