With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging and infection rates reaching record highs, Christmas and New Year’s promise to look very different this year, with lockdowns, social distancing mandates, and restrictions likely to cause many public fireworks displays to be canceled.
That doesn’t mean you have to skip your usual Christmas or New Year’s fireworks display. You can put on a great fireworks show at home, if you have a little space, and you live in a state where fireworks are legal (as they are in most states). Stay home and enjoy a socially distanced, private fireworks show in your own backyard.
Make Plenty of Space
When you’re lighting off aerial fireworks at home, you need plenty of space both in front of and behind the firing line. Spectators should maintain a distance of one and a half times the altitude reached by your highest firework — so, if your highest firework reaches a height of 120 feet, keep your spectators at least 180 feet back.
It probably goes without saying that you should shoot your fireworks away from your home and spectators. Map out a “fallout zone” that’s about 20 feet longer than your spectator safety zone. This area should be clear of trees, structures, and power lines, as it may see some hot, falling debris from your aerial pyrotechnics.
Put Safety First
Ideally, you’ll light your fireworks in calm, dry conditions — but rain or snow doesn’t present a safety risk, and you can keep your fireworks dry for lighting by wrapping them in foil. There’s no need to unwrap them for lighting — you can fire them with the foil on, but it’ll be a little messier — you’ll need to clean up some foil bits from your blast zone. If it’s windy, though, you should postpone the fireworks display.
Make sure you follow common safety protocols for lighting off fireworks. Don’t hold lit fireworks in your hand — that can cause serious injury. Don’t aim fireworks toward people or structures. Don’t let a lit firework out of your sight. Be sober while lighting off fireworks. Make sure fireworks are propped up on a rack, buried in sand, or otherwise stabilized so that they don’t fall over while they’re emitting sparks and flames. Light fireworks one at a time, then back away. Keep fire extinguishers and water nearby, as well as first aid supplies for treating burns.
Obey the Law
You’re probably not going to find many big fireworks tents at this time of year, but you can still buy plenty of fireworks online. However, make sure you’re not letting off anything that’s illegal in your state. Most fireworks are legal in most states, so it shouldn’t be difficult to avoid a misdemeanor charge.
In Peru, it’s traditional to celebrate Christmas by lighting fireworks at midnight — the whole country gets into the act, with whole families setting off fireworks for an hour or so on Christmas night. However, your neighbors in North America probably won’t appreciate that.
Go ahead and have your home Christmas or New Year’s firework show early in the evening, before your local noise ordinances justify a complaint to police. It gets dark early this time of year, so a 6:00 p.m. fireworks show should be feasible. You may want to let your neighbors know what you’re planning, so they can at least know to expect some loud noises and prepare themselves, their families, and their pets for the event.
Serve Some Festive Hot Drinks
Since fireworks are an outdoor activity, they can make a good centerpiece for a socially distanced gathering. It’ll be cold outside, so warm up a pot of hot chocolate, wassail, or cider to serve to your guests. Serve it with individual packets of Christmas cookies or other snacks. Give kids Christmas gifts of sparklers, charcoal snakes, or bang snaps to light or throw. Wrap up early and get the kids into bed to wait for Santa while you put out the gifts.
Big, public fireworks displays may be canceled this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a festive pyrotechnics show. It’s easy to put one on yourself! Keep everyone cozy with hot drinks to sip while they watch the show. You might be surprised at how much fun a winter fireworks show can be.