An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Fireworks safety: don’t get burned on the Fourth of July

  • Published
  • By Ricardo S. Campos
  • 502nd Fire Emergency Services

This Fourth of July, people across America will be celebrating its birthday. Backyard picnics, family gatherings, food, drink and of course, mom’s apple pie will be a treat. Additionally, fireworks will lighting up the sky around cities and towns.

Originating in China some 2,000 years ago, fireworks were used to scare away evil spirits. The most common legend has it that fireworks were discovered or invented by accident by a Chinese cook working in a field kitchen.

Who initiated the celebration of Fourth of July in America? This event was envisioned by John Adams who wanted fireworks as part of the festivities.

In a letter that he wrote to Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776, he mentioned that the occasion should be commemorated with “illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forever more.”

To this day, fireworks are used to commemorate this historical event. However, they are not safe in the hands of consumers. Fireworks initiate thousands of burns and eye injuries each year.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, fireworks produce an average of almost 18,500 reported fires per year. Sparklers are credited for more than one-quarter of emergency room injuries.

Appearing in National Council on Fireworks Safety article dated June 23, 2016, Nancy Blogin, President of the National Council on Fireworks Safety wrote "Every year, safety is our first priority as families begin to plan their Fourth of July festivities. While fireworks are the most iconic and festive way to celebrate our country’s independence, there can be dangers if fireworks are used improperly.

“Consumers should purchase fireworks from a reputable company or fireworks stand, check local and state laws for fireworks use in your city, and check all instructions on fireworks packaging before use,” Blogin added.

Fireworks can be safely enjoyed if a few simple steps are taken in consideration, according to NFPA:

Be careful:

  • Be safe. If you want to see fireworks, go to a public show put on by experts.

  • Do not use consumer fireworks.

  • Keep a close eye on children at events where fireworks are used.

How hot does a sparkler burn?

  • Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Cakes bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Wood burns at 575 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Glass melts at 900 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Sparklers produce heat of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to cause third-degree burns.

The use of fireworks is not allowed on Joint Base San Antonio, or JBSA, in accordance with AFMAN 91-201, dated March 21. It states:  “Active duty Air Force personnel (on- or off-duty) and on-duty Air Force civilian personnel will not take part in the transportation, storage, set up or functioning of commercial fireworks for on-base fireworks displays.” There are many controlled firework events throughout San Antonio.  


For more information about fireworks safety, visit the National Fire Prevention Association website at, or call the JBSA fire prevention offices at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, 210-221-2727; JBSA-Lackland at 210-671-2921, or JBSA-Randolph at 210-652-6915.