Fireworks safety and your kids

By: Jasmine Miller

© Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©


Fireworks safety and your kids

By: Jasmine Miller
With names like "Comet Mine Shell," "Grim Reaper" and "Do or Die," there should be no doubt that fireworks (as they're more generically and gently known) and safety are not to be taken lightly.

Still, every year avoidable mishaps and accidents occur with these flaming projectiles that are considered by many to be toys and entertainment that signal special celebrations and warm summer days.

Even though Canadian cities big and small host their own professional firework displays on major holidays, family fireworks -- the ones that can be bought online and delivered to your door -- remain as popular as ever.

The rules and regulations about fireworks vary from region to region. Many municipalities, such as Victoria and Calgary, completely prohibit the use of family or consumer fireworks at any time.

Different cities, different rules
Others cities, like Toronto, allow firework displays on only two days of the year: Victoria Day and Canada Day. On those days (or one day before or after, if the weather is bad) you do not require special permission to use legal fireworks on your own property. (At any other time of year, you need to apply for a permit.)

In some jurisdictions, though, a fireworks permit is required even on holidays. Visit the website of your local police or fire department to determine the rules and regulations in your area -- because even if you can legally buy fireworks, you may unwittingly be breaking the law if you light them.

How to apply for a fireworks permit
Some permit applications can be completed online and simply require a few common sense answers to general safety questions, as well as information about the particular fireworks you will be using. However, some areas have stricter requirements such as proof of liability insurance and lots of space between you and your closest neighbours.

And while it's a good idea to get permission from your neighbours before using fireworks on your property, it's important to remember that permission isn't legally binding and could go up in smoke if something goes awry.

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For instance, your neighbour might be all for your pyrotechnics on Canada Day until a Roman Candle lands in his yard and sets something on fire or freaks out his dog. He may even want to be compensated.

"And he has the right to be," says Bill Bruce, director of animal and bylaw services in Calgary. "Fireworks are remarkably dangerous -- even experts get hurt. Flaming projectiles warrant some precaution."


Think of fireworks as you would any other dangerous equipment in your home. It may be barbecue season, but would you say to your 9-year-old: "Hey, buddy, grill me some steak, will you? I need a nap." Not likely. Even your preteens should be monitored when they use the stove -- and parents are advised to treat fireworks (even the tiniest, most innocuous of them) in the same way.

Consider this: Sparklers, the babies of the fireworks category, can hit temperatures up to 1,200 degrees Celsius. For some perspective, glass melts at 900 degrees Celsius. So imagine what could happen if that sparkler goes astray.

Think ahead
"We don't want to be the no-fun police," says Bruce. But he does want parents to think fireworks through before using them. "Limit the running around, make sure there's enough distance between kids," he says. And use the same common sense safety you would around campfires and in the kitchen "because when it comes to a burn, it's just appalling the damage that happens," he cautions.

Keep in mind that most city parks want to celebrate the holidays with you, so you can always load the family up with some blankets and enjoy the display from a safe distance. And besides, do you really think you can put on a better show in your own yard?

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Fireworks safety and your kids