Fireworks 101

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Fireworks are probably the most exciting part of the 4th of July festivities. Yes, eating something hot off the grill and maybe even some red, white & blue cake is great, but what every kid and kid-at-heart (aren’t all Southerners?) looks forward to is the big finale to the day: fireworks!


But with anything so much fun, there must be rules and regulations. Show your stripes with caution when using fireworks. We have compiled a guide to the fireworks you should look for at your local stand, as well as some tips and tricks of the trade.

*Be sure to look into your local laws and ordinances on the use of fireworks. In many parts of the U.S. setting off fireworks is illegal.

What you will need:

  • watermelon for those who choose to sit and watch the show
  • chairs
  • lighters
  • extra lighters
  • cinder blocks and pipes to launch fireworks from
  • punks–very important not to forget these (you light these and they burn slowly so you can light many fireworks with one punk)
  • fireworks (see guide below on which to choose)
  • great tunes

The Best Fireworks for kids:

Please use your best judgement on whether or not your kids are mature enough to handle fireworks. Make sure they ALWAYS have adult supervision.

There are some fireworks that are more docile than others, making them more suitable for the younger crowd.

1. Poppers: these little devils are very annoying for everyone but kids, who squeal with delight when they throw an innocent-looking white paper tadpole-looking thing on the ground and hear it pop as it lands. Make sure they throw ’em hard, as leftover poppers on the ground will pop when stepped on.

2. Color bombs: these are extremely fun for kids to light and watch clouds of color billow out of the ball.

3. Sparklers: this is about as close to holding fire as a kid can get. These guys are fun to swing around and just watch the…well…sparkles!

The Best Fireworks for Adults:

There should still probably be adult supervision here. So bring the mature family as a safety measure. And never mix alcohol and fireworks; that is how accidents happen and you will forever be telling the story of “that one 4th of July”.

1. Parachutes: any firework that explodes and then releases a parachuting person/man/thing keeps things interesting. Try and catch the parachute before it hits the ground, we dare you.

2. Bottle rockets: these are a classic firework that must be present at any Independence day celebration. You can buy them in bulk and they’re cheap, too. The best way to set these off are by hammering a pipe into the ground and lighting the rockets from there. (Hint: make sure the bottle rocket is right-side up)

3. Missiles: there are many types of missiles. They whistle as they rocket into the sky and explode. These are fun for their show and the classic firework sound they make.

If you want a bigger display, be extremely careful when choosing and setting them off. Clear an area and check the direction the firework is pointing (away from people) before setting it off. And when in doubt, go see a fireworks display put on by professionals.

Image Source: Toni via Flickr