Safety Tips for Firecracker Use
The safest way to handle firecrackers is by not using them at all. There are a lot of safer but equally fun and noisy alternatives to usher in the New Year—blow a trumpet, honk your car’s horn, or play dance music full blast on your sound system.
But for people who just cannot resist the thrill of using firecrackers, here are some safety tips from the Philippine Red Cross:
- Use only authorized firecracker products (see list below).
- Follow the manufacturer’s instruction on the labels.
- Use a flat and solid surface with no dry grass when lighting firework products.
- Do not use matches, candles, lighters, sparklers, and cigarettes to ignite the firecracker. Use punk incense sticks instead to avoid catching the blast on your hands.
- When the firework fuse ignites, move away. Do not stand over it.
- When the fireworks device fails to ignite, do not attempt to re-light it. Put it in a can of water and get rid of the failed device.
- Wear safety apparel, e.g. sturdy baseball cap or hard hat (the one used in construction sites), gloves, earplugs, facemask, and goggles.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) Firearms and Explosives Office lists the following authorized firecrackers and pyrotechnics:
- Baby Rocket/Bawang
- Pulling of strings
- Paper caps
- El Diablo
- Judas Belt
- Sky Rocket (Kwitis)
- Jumbo (regular and special)
- Roman Candle
- Whistle Device
The following firecrackers are prohibited:
- Watusi or dancing firecrackers
- Super Lolo
- Atomic Big Trianggulo
- Mother Rockets
- Lolo Thunder
- Big Judas belt
- Big Bawang
- Goodbye Philippines
- Atomic Bomb
- Five Star
- Giant Whistle Bomb
- ‘Super Yolanda’ firecracker
“Assign someone as the ‘Fire Watcher’ who will be responsible for the overall safety of everyone participating in the New Year revelry,” recommends Martin Aguda Jr., an emergency management consultant and a safety and preparedness advocate.
In his article in Rappler, Aguda explains that the Fire Watcher can be an adult member of the family or of your group of friends who will not be in any way involved in igniting firecrackers or lighting up sparklers. The designated Fire Watcher should perform the following tasks:
- Watch out for any unsafe actions, such as deviations from recommended firecracker ignition procedures; holding firecrackers; pointing or throwing firecrackers at another person, experimenting, altering the fuse, mixing black powder and other chemicals, and use of cigarettes while using firecrackers.
- Ensure that children are not allowed to play with firecrackers, even with adult supervision.
- Ensure that firecrackers are not used near rocks, bottles and debris, as exploding firecrackers may cause dangerous projectiles and flying debris.
- Ensure that launch pads for rockets (kwitis) are properly secured.
- Ensure that firecrackers are stored away from any open flames.
- Ensure that rockets do not land on light or highly combustible materials.
- Immediately extinguish small fires or embers.
- Pre-position several water buckets, pail with sand, and fire extinguisher in the area where firecrackers are used.
- Pour water on all unexploded firecrackers immediately.