Fireworks are what make the fourth of July such a fun holiday. They are fun for the whole family but can also be dangerous if not used properly. Reading and fallowing the safety warnings on all fireworks you intend on using is the single most important thing you can do to keep everyone safe. One of the best ways to keep your fireworks show safe is by knowing what the firework is going to do, before you light that fuse. Nothing is scarier then lighting a fountain only to have a fire ball shoot into the air and explode in your lovely tree. If this happens you will be putting out a fire and most likely thinking, holy crap I could have killed someone with that thing. I hate to admit having said this to myself on more than one occasion with fireworks. The key to safety is, knowing how to tell what fireworks do what. Different types of fireworks do different things such as blowing up, spinning, shooting in the air, and making lots of noise. So having said that we will get right into the types of fireworks, what they do, and ways to tell what type of firework you are purchasing.
Fireworks for kids (see safety labels for age groups):
Sparklers are sticks that emit sparks when the end has been lit. They are fun for kids but adult supervision is needed as they can easily burn a child or light something on fire. You won't have trouble spotting these with the flat box that will say emits sparks on the label.
Snaps are small paper firecrackers that explode when thrown on a hard surface. They are the safest firecracker. Kids of all ages love these.
Confetti shooters are small bottles with a string coming out of the top. Hold the end with the string in one hand, face the other end away from you, and pull the string with the other, (Kaboom) out comes confetti.
Snakes look almost like a pill. Set one on the ground and light it. The snake will grow very long before it is done.
Smoke bombs are small balls with a fuse. Light the fuse and smoke will come out, usually in the color of the ball.
Fireworks for adults:
Fountains come in cones, square boxes, cylinders, and sometimes other shapes. Some have one cylinder and some have many. You can feel the top on most to see if it has more then one. More then one usually means a longer show and more effects like different colors, sparks, strobes, and noise. Fountains are placed on the ground and emit sparks and sometimes make noise. These are the best fireworks to purchase when putting on a show for young kids as they are milder and won't be as likely to scare your audience. Almost always the bigger the container the better the show with fountains. These will say emits showers of sparks and most of the time will say fountain. If it also says shoots flaming balls, you are holding more then just a fountain.
Firecrackers are one of the oldest fireworks. They simply explode with a big bang. You want to be careful here as the MD80 and Cherry Bomb (quarter sticks of dynamite) are illegal and very dangerous. You can tell it is a firecracker by its cylinder shape, usually many strung together in a package, and it will say, warning Explosive somewhere on the package.
Cakes and Roman Candles shoot balls of fire up in the air and explode (or just go out). The difference between them is that Roman Candles have one tube you stick in the ground that shoots flaming balls in the air and Cakes have many tubes stuck together. Cakes create a longer and bigger show most of the time with noise, sparks, balls shooting in the air, and fountains. The package will say shoots flaming balls. If it makes noise it will say with report.
Rockets shoot up in the air and explode. The most popular rocket is the bottle rocket. These come in many sizes from very small bottle rockets all the way up to huge rockets several pounds in weight. They do anything from shooting in the air and exploding to making noise and exploding with a colorful array. The warning label will say flammable rocket. Of course if it makes a lot of noise it will say with report.
Artillery fireworks are similar to rockets. They come with a re-loadable tube and balls that are loaded in the tube with the fuse sticking out. The ball then shoots out of the tube and into the air. The effects are usually a little better then with a rocket as some shells explode more then one time. This is the type of firework the big fireworks shows use most of the time. You will see the same warning as with cakes. Shoots flaming balls with or without report.
Novelties come in many forms such as tanks, cars, pinwheels, houses, and a whole bunch of others. They shoot sparks, fountains, strobe light, make noise, spin, and just about anything else you can think of. You will need to read the package to see what it will do. The warning labels will be the same as the above fireworks such as emits showers of sparks if it has a fountain effect. Just keep an eye on the label as some may even explode at some point.