Big bang theories: A few fireworks do’s and don’ts

fireworksEver think about lighting a firework inside your house? Think again.

It’s been done in York County, and it wasn’t the joke people intended it to be, said York City Fire Department Acting Fire Chief David Michaels.

Before you light the first sparkler of the season, here are some fireworks tips.

Sparklers, novelty items

“A lot of people like to think there’s no danger with (sparklers),” Michaels said. “The reason they’re dangerous is the temperature they get.”

Sparklers will reach 1,200 degrees — hot enough to cause third-degree burns — according to the National Fire Protection Association. That’s three times the temperature at which cake bakes — and glass melts at 900 degrees.

“1,200 degrees is going to ignite something,” Michaels said.

Often people decide to throw sparklers, and when they land on a roof, a dry brush, or something combustible, a fire starts.

Bill Hunt, manager of Phantom Fireworks in Hopewell Township, points out another misconception about sparklers: They should never be held.

“Sparklers are supposed to be in the ground,” Hunt said. And then, there should be a 5-foot circle around the sparkler while it’s lit.

Hunt keeps a table of safety pamphlets at the front of his Phantom store. Mostly, he sells to professionals, he said. For everyday residents who want novelty items and perhaps a few fountains, he suggested they check out tent sales.

A Phantom Fireworks tent sale will start about mid-June through July 4 on Route 851, near the store. Hunt said that’s the time to buy because there is less paperwork and more of a variety of smaller items.

Besides sparklers, snappers, spinners and the like, Hunt said fountains are also popular for families. Medium-sized fountains, which are ground-based and shoot sparks, sell for $20 to $30.

He suggested a 20- to 25-foot radius when watching fountains.

“Even though it’s a fountain, wind could knock it over,” Hunt said. “Just play it safe. There’s no overdoing it in terms of safety.”

Safety first

On average, more than 30,000 fires and 9,500 injuries result from fireworks each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. And the risk of fireworks injury for children ages 5 to 14 is double that of the general population, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Hunt said minors should never light a firework.

“(People think), OK, my son’s 10 years old and I trust him. You shouldn’t,” Hunt warned. In Pennsylvania, the person who lights the firework must be at least 18. Hunt also suggested to always keep a fire extinguisher and bucket of water nearby.

Michaels said he’s heard of bottle caps exploding in someone’s hand. Or a dud — a firework that does not go off at first — exploding when someone walks up to it.

But one of the biggest cautions from both Hunt and Michaels is not to mix fireworks with heavy drinking.

“Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of the injuries do happen,” Michaels said. “That’s just a recipe for disaster.”

Local shows

Want to leave the big bangs to the pros? Area displays include:


SPRINGETTSBURY TOWNSHIP, Springettsbury Township Park, 1501 Mount Zion Road, fireworks at 9:15 p.m. Vocal Trash performs at 7 p.m. Find details at


RED LION, Fireworks display at dusk near Horn Field (at about 9:15 p.m.). July 4 is Stay-at-Home celebration with Roarin’ Great Car Show and Red Lion Felton Band. For details, visit

NEW FREEDOM, Fireworks at midnight July 3 at Marge Goodfellow Park. Kiddie fireworks 9:30 p.m. July 5. Find details at


YORK, Cultural Alliance of York and the York Revolution present free family carnival featuring inflatable rides, games and a “splash zone” with water activities from 6 to 9 p.m. Around 7:15, a family movie will be shown. Families will be able to picnic on the outfield. Fireworks to start at 9:30. Concessions will be available. For more details, visit

JACOBUS, Hosted by the Jacobus Lions Club, the July Blast at Jacobus Community Park on South Main Street includes: a children’s parade, baseball, a children’s tractor pull and food. Fireworks are at dusk. Rain date is July 6. For details, visit

WESTMINSTER, Carroll County Farm Museum will host a Fourth of July celebration including onstage entertainment, children’s games and food and crafts for sale from noon to 5 p.m. Admission: $5, adults; ages 7 to 18 years old, $4; seniors, $4; 6 and younger, free. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m., sponsored by Kiwanis Club of Westminster. $5 per car donation.

WRIGHTSVILLE, Activities will be held throughout the day with a band at night. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m. near the John Wright Building.

More safety tips

  1. Know your fireworks; read the instructions before igniting
  2. Have a designated shooter (someone who has not been drinking and is at least 18 years old). He/she should wear safety glasses.
  3. Adults should closely supervise children near fireworks.
  4. Obey local laws. Check with your municipal office for regulations.
  5. Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  6. Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor garbage can.
  7. Never attempt to alter or modify consumer fireworks.

— National Fire Protection Association

Jess Krout

Multiplatform features copy editor at York Daily Record/Sunday News. Follow me on Twitter @JessKrout. Email or call 717-771-2002.

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  1. July 3, 2013

    [...] Big bang theories: A few fireworks do’s and don’ts [...]

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