Firework safety for everyone

Pets and young kids can be extra sensitive to fireworks. Here are a few suggestions on making it a safe experience for everyone.

Many Americans will be celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks. Whether they’re being shot off in the backyard or at a firework show, or being heard in the distance, fireworks will be part of our lives in some way. Michigan State University Extension offers the following considerations for firework safety.


Alcohol and fireworks never mix. The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends making sure there is a designated shooter who has not been drinking any alcohol. Even a small quantity can impair your judgement and ability to properly set up fireworks and use them safely.

Young children

Little arms are too short to use sparklers, which can heat up to 2,000 degrees. Use glow sticks as a fun alternative. Sparklers are not recommended for children under the age of 5. For young children over 5 that insist on sparklers, try bamboo ones or put the sparkler through a plastic cup so the cup protects the child from the hot metal and sparks.

Some children may be sensitive to the loud noises of the fireworks. In some cases, it might even affect their hearing. For ideas on fun alternatives, read my accompanying article, “Keeping the Fourth of July fun.”


Sad dogSo many animals, especially dogs, run away and get lost over the firework season. It is easy to understand why if you consider fireworks from the dog’s point of view. In the article, “Why are Dogs Scared of Fireworks? 11 Things You Should Know,” Purina dog behavior scientist Ragen Mcgowan says one of the reasons is that a dog’s acute sense of hearing makes them more sensitive to fireworks then we are. They are much louder to our pets.

Another reason is while we expect to hear a loud boom during a firework show, dogs do not and can be very startled. Similar to our reaction when we get startled by a very loud noise, their heart rate races, they have a surge in adrenaline and they experience a sudden increase in a stress hormone circulating throughout their body, which causes them to run away.

Fireworks are also very different then thunderstorms. Storms come with a lot of warning signs, including a change in the barometric pressure and high winds, so they can anticipate the storm.

Finally, Mcgowan says to relax. If you find yourself with your pet around fireworks, stay calm. Making a big fuss only reassures them there is a reason to panic. Staying relaxed and calm shows the dog there is no danger.

Firework safety tips for pets

  • Don’t ever bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
  • If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe interior room to avoid exposure to sound.
  • Make sure your pet has an identification tag in case it runs off during a firework display
  • Never shoot off fireworks of any kind, including sparklers, near pets.

Firework safety tips for everyone

Kids with American flagThe National Council of Firework Safety suggests the following tips for staying safe around fireworks:

  • Only use fireworks outdoors.
  • Use fireworks as directed.
  • Obey all local laws regarding use of fireworks.
  • Never give young children fireworks.
  • Wear safety glasses.
  • Always have a bucket of water nearby.

Fireworks are so much fun and we have so many reasons to celebrate this great nation. Following some basic safety rules will keep you, your family and your friends safe this firework season. Your young children are watching, and modeling safe practices will keep them safe in the future when they shoot off fireworks with their friends and future family.

To learn about the positive impact children and families are experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Reports: “Preparing Young Children for Success” and “Preparing the Future Generation for Success.”

Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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