Fireworks are legal in the great state of Iowa. If you use fireworks in the proper recommended manner, and an accident starts a fire which damages your home or surrounding property, you can expect your homeowners insurance to cover those damages.

But regardless of the legality of fireworks in your area – or the terms of your homeowners insurance – you would much rather avoid accidentally setting fire to your house. And needless to say, you wouldn’t like anyone to get hurt during your Independence Day festivities, either.

Sadly, those accidents aren’t uncommon. An estimated 19,500 fires resulting from fireworks were reported in 2018. Those fires were accountable for $105 million in property damage, 46 civilian injuries, and five entirely avoidable deaths. During the previous year, fireworks-related incidents sent over 12,000 people to the hospital – half of whom were under the age of 20.

We aren’t going to advise against enjoying fireworks this 4th of July, as that would be the most offensively un-American thing we could do. Instead we’re going to give you a few tips that will help you enjoy a safer yet still thoroughly patriotic holiday!

  • Do not allow young children to handle fireworks. As a parent, it is your duty to apprehend when your child is mature enough to safely handle fireworks. Take care that sparklers, which are often perceived as safe for toddlers, are anything but. First-degree burns can occur at temperatures as low as 118 °F. Cotton ignites at 410 °F; human hair, 451 °F. A sparkler typically burns at temperatures between 1,800 and 3,000 °F.
  • Supervise children while they are near or using fireworks. As their chief role model, you have an opportunity to demonstrate safe fireworks handling techniques to your kids. But when they are unattended, even the most responsible children can make life-changing mistakes. Consider the case of Mark Tracy, whose ancestral home was immolated after two unattended children lit fireworks in his bushes in 2021.
  • Never use fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We needn’t explain the exact reasons why inebriation and incendiaries don’t mix. You already get it. If you plan on having more than one glass of rosé this 4th of July, please also plan on finishing the fireworks portion of your evening first!
  • Wear protective eyewear while lighting or near fireworks. Approximately 15 percent of fireworks injuries are eye-related. Even if you are only a bystander, take care to wear glasses that satisfy ANSI Z87.1 Conveniently, this is the same standard that hunting and shooting safety glasses also meet.
  • Keep a bucket of water ready. A bucket of water won’t just prove invaluable if you need to quickly put out a small fire. It is also highly recommended to soak spent fireworks overnight, as doing so renders residual explosive materials virtually incapable of accidental combustion.
  • Do not attempt to reignite dud fireworks. You may feel tempted to take another stab at lighting a dud. You would be well advised to resist the urge. Even if it is in fact capable of igniting, a dud poses a heightened risk of undergoing combustion before you have time to retreat a safe distance. Give a dud a wide berth for at least 20 minutes after it has failed to ignite, and then submerge it in water.
  • Light only one firework at a time. A legal firework fuse must burn for at least three seconds before commencing ignition. That still doesn’t give you a tremendous amount of time to retreat to a safe distance: a minimum of 35 feet for fountains and other ground-based fireworks, or 150 feet for aerial fireworks.
  • Light fireworks on a safe surface. Ignite fireworks on a hard, flat and level surface (especially those that are designed to be fired in an upright position). Gravel, sand and grass surfaces are considered unsafe for fireworks, as are surfaces near flammable materials such as dry vegetation.

Additional Fireworks Safety Tips

  • Do not light fireworks upwind of spectators
  • Do not purchase illegal fireworks
  • Do not attempt to make your own fireworks
  • Do not hold lighted fireworks
  • Do not point or throw fireworks at people
  • Do not light fireworks indoors

The Hoffman Agency team wishes you a brilliant, thrilling and fun 4th of July! And if you would like to celebrate the spirit of independence by ensuring your home, vehicle and health are all covered in the event of accidents, then we welcome you to contact our insurance agency today. We help Iowans protect everything they hold dear!