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These days, you can get the “good” fireworks – that is, aerial ones – in more states than ever. That makes putting together your own home fireworks show easy, as long as you have the space.

You can choose fireworks based on what effects you want to create in your display, but you need to make sure your audience is at a safe distance and that you have enough room for an adequate fallout zone, so you don’t catch anything on fire. You also need to make sure your fireworks are secured to a rack before igniting them. Here’s how to put on a safe and successful fireworks show at home.

Choose the Effects You Want in Your Display

Whether you buy your fireworks online or get them in person from a local vendor, you should first think about the aerial effects you want to see in your display. Popular effects include peonies, which break into a large circular pattern; crossettes, which break into criss-crossing circular patterns; and waterfalls, which create a breathtaking waterfall effect after the break. Get acquainted with the different types of effects so you can use your aerial fireworks to paint a tableau in the sky.

Make Room for the Show

An aerial fireworks show requires quite a lot of space. You need to keep your spectators at a safe distance, so figure out which one of your aerial fireworks breaks the highest. Your audience needs to stand or sit one-and-a-half times that distance from the firing line. Your fallout zone needs to be twice that distance long in front of the firing line. There should be no structures, trees, or overhead wires in or above the fallout zone. This will allow burning debris to fall safely to earth without setting anything on fire. You should also make sure there aren’t any wires or branches overhanging the firing line.

Use Fireworks Racks

Fireworks that aren’t secured to racks shouldn’t be ignited. They can fall over and shoot their contents at people on the ground, and righting a fallen firework is dangerous, too – you should never handle a burning or lit firework, not even long enough to set it down after lighting it while you hold it in your hand.

Instead, secure all of your fireworks in or on a fireworks rack before igniting them. If you’re going to set off a lot of mortars, you can look up how to build a mortar rack out of two-by-fours on Youtube. If you’re setting off a variety of different kinds of fireworks, you can make an all-purpose rack by cutting a two-foot-by-eight-foot piece of plywood. Add some weight and make it a little easier to pick up by screwing a few pieces of scrap lumber to the bottom of the plywood. Line up your fireworks on the long side of the plywood, in the order you want to fire them in. You can fasten them to the wood by driving screws through the bases of the fireworks.

What about fireworks like roman candles or sparklers, that you might traditionally hold in your hand? Don’t hold them in your hand, even if the packaging says you can. Sparklers burn hot enough to melt metal, so prop them in a bucket of sand before lighting them for safety. Do the same with roman candles, bottle rockets, and anything else that can’t be easily nailed to a piece of wood.

Be Ready to Put Out Fires

You definitely shouldn’t light off fireworks at all if your area is under a burn advisory. But even if you’re not under a burn advisory, you should be ready to extinguish any fires that might break out as a result of hot fireworks debris falling from the sky or other pyrotechnics mishaps. Keep a garden hose handy to spray any flames that break out with water, or have a fire extinguisher nearby.

Make sure you have burn cream and bandages handy, too, and be ready to seek medical care if anyone sustains anything more serious than a first-degree burn. Protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and long pants, boots or other closed-toe shoes, a hat, gloves, and goggles. Keep your eyes on your fireworks until they go out, so you can fly into action immediately if something happens.

A home fireworks show can be a rocking good time for your family, friends, and neighbors. Take advantage of the pyrotechnics you’re allowed to buy in your area, and practice safety precautions while you’re lighting them off. An accident-free performance is one that everyone can enjoy.