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Tips for fireworks safety, plus know the law and your liability

Fireworks are impressive and a lively way to celebrate holidays like Victoria Day and Canada Day, and other special events. However, they aren’t toys – fireworks are dangerous explosives that should be handled carefully. Most property damage or severe injury incidents result from improper handling and safety1. Of course, the safest way to enjoy fireworks is by attending a public fireworks display put on by professionals. Still, if you choose to hold a fireworks display of your own this Victoria Day long weekend, it’s important that you respect local laws and follow the safety tips below for a memorable but safe experience.
The three things you should always do before using consumer fireworks are to:

  1. Abide by the law

  2. Know your space

  3. Read all the instructions


  1. Abide by the law

Fireworks displays are for everyone to enjoy, yet only adults (18 years or over) may handle consumer fireworks1. Federal laws governing consumer fireworks apply throughout Canada, but with thousands of municipalities, each may have slightly different rules. Some municipalities suspend the use of fireworks if a fire ban has been imposed, whereas others have gone a step further and prohibited fireworks altogether. Review your municipality’s bylaws to know when and where consumer fireworks can be enjoyed.

  1. Know your space

Always purchase consumer-grade fireworks from a licensed retailer to meet the highest safety standards and be responsible when transporting them to ensure they aren’t damaged1. At home, store your fireworks securely in a cool, dry, ventilated place out of children’s reach and away from any flammable substances2. Only use fireworks outside – figure out your location of use and its limitations before buying your fireworks. Be sure to choose a clear, open area away from buildings and vehicles. Refer to the fireworks label for safety instructions on minimum spectator distances3.

  1. Read all the instructions

Set up your fireworks in a sturdy firing base, such as a fire-resistant pail filled with dirt or sand2. Understand how your fireworks will act and plan the firing order well in advance – once they’re lit, they can’t be turned off2. Before starting the show, ensure that the wind is blowing away from spectators and that any nearby brush and grass is damp so it doesn’t get ignited by stray sparks3. Have a bucket of water close by to dispose of used fireworks or extinguish any flames that may occur. Avoid alcohol or drugs, especially smoking, and wear safety glasses and gloves to protect yourself1.
Proper disposal
Never try to fix or relight a firework that didn’t go off – wait at least 30 minutes before approaching a defective firework2. Improper fireworks disposal can cause fires in waste collection vehicles and facilities, so it’s vital to safely dispose of used or unused fireworks4. Submerge your fireworks in water and soak them overnight4. Wrap the wet fireworks in a plastic bag to keep them from drying out and put them in the garbage bin4. You should dispose of fireworks in small quantities – up to 10 items at a time4. Any additional fireworks should be disposed of over separate garbage collection dates4.
Potential risks
Sometimes things can go wrong, and accidents happen, but the key is to be careful and prepared. Part of that preparation should include ensuring you have enough home insurance coverage for any problems.
Property damage
There’s always the possibility that a firework can go off-course and cause damage to your home or neighbouring properties. If your neighbour decides to sue for damages, you’ll want third-party liability coverage (usually included in your homeowner’s insurance policy). It’s best to confirm with your insurance broker that you’re fully covered before setting anything off.
Sadly, many people are injured from fireworks mishaps each year, whether minor or severe. If someone is injured during your fireworks display, you can be sued. Again, it’s worth double-checking with your insurance broker to see if you have sufficient liability coverage.
Fireworks bans
If your municipality has suspended or prohibited the use of fireworks, no amount of insurance will ease the situation if something goes wrong. If you risk hosting a fireworks display anyway, beware that most home insurance policies will not cover damages from illegal activity.
OTIP knows that fireworks are exciting and fun – remember these safety tips and respect the firepower. If you have questions about your current home insurance coverage, contact us at 1-833-494-0090. If you are shopping for home insurance and want a quote, connect with an OTIP broker at 1-888-892-4935.

  1. Canada Safety Council – Fireworks Safety Tips

  2. Natural Resources Canada – Consumer Fireworks Safety

  3. Natural Resources Canada – Fireworks Safety Video

  4. City of Toronto – Use & Disposal of Fireworks


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