As 2021 wears on, it’s becoming clear that lockdowns and restrictions will be a part of life for a least a little longer yet. But that means that fireworks shows may continue to be canceled in 2021 as outbreaks recur in some regions and new variants pop up in others. So, this year, you may want to again celebrate special occasions with a fireworks show.
Never fear. With some plywood and a few tools, you can put on a DIY fireworks show to rival the professionals — even if you can’t get access to quite the same quality of fireworks.
Whether you’re firing mines, mounting them to a rack will help keep them stable during firing. Build a simple rack by cutting pieces of plywood into two-foot wide, eight-foot-long pieces. Attach some two-by-four (or other sized lumber) pieces to the bottom for added weight, stability, and ease of use (it’ll be easier to pick the rack up off the ground).
Most fireworks have a plastic base that you can screw right to the wood. Line up your fireworks — especially those that shoot up into the air, like roman candles — along one long side of the rack. Then you place your rack in the firing area with the short side facing the audience. When it’s time to light the fireworks, you can simply go down the row and light them one after another.
Of course, if you don’t have time to build a rack or don’t want to, you can also push your fireworks into buckets of sand to hold them upright and keep them steady while they’re firing. It’s important to steady them somehow, though, so they don’t fall over and start shooting balls of flame at Aunt Edna.
A safe firing area is perhaps the most important component of a successful DIY home fireworks show. You can buy fireworks online, and in many states you can even get the “good” fireworks like roman candles, bottle rockets, mortars, and mines. But the last thing anyone needs is a row of bottle rockets fired right into the neighbor’s garage.
Choose a firing area that’s unobstructed by trees, shrubs, power lines, and structures. Your audience, as well as any nearby structures, trees, power lines, and animals should be one and a half times the distance from your fireworks show as the height of the highest-flying firework you launch. So if your highest-flying firework goes up to 100 feet, your crowd (and trees, structures, etc.) should be at least 150 feet away from the firing area.
Put your crowd upwind from the firing area so that hot firework debris doesn’t fall on them. Monitor the weather and be ready to cancel the show — or at least put it off until another day — if it gets too windy. Rain can be worked around — you can just cover the fireworks with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and you don’t even need to remove the covering before you light them up, although you will need to pick up a lot of small pieces of foil. But it can be dangerous to light fireworks on a windy night, as the wind can blow the burning projectiles off course and cause an unintended fire.
You shouldn’t light off fireworks without dressing appropriately in long pants, a long-sleeved top, boots or closed-toe shoes, a hat (preferably a hard hat), safety goggles, and gloves. Choose clothing made of natural fibers because it’s less likely to melt if it comes into contact with burning materials. Keep buckets or water or a hose handy in case of a fire. And always make sure you’re practicing basic fireworks safety — never hold a firework in your hand, never turn your back on a firework, and never use mind-altering substances while you’re lighting fireworks.
A home fireworks show can be just as dazzling as any professional one, especially if you have access to quality fireworks. Beat the COVID crowds this year — order your fireworks online and host your own display. Your family and friends will like it so much they’ll want to do it every year.