(KSNT) – If the number of annual injuries from at-home fireworks doesn’t frighten you, maybe it should.

A federal report shows that 18 people were killed by recreational fireworks in the U.S. alone in 2020. And more than 15,000 went to the emergency room, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Many of those accidents were caused by human error, but it’s also important to make sure the fireworks you are using are safe, to begin with.

Firework shows around our area

A Kansas fireworks tent owner talked to Nexstar’s KSNT about the telltale signs to figure out if a firework is safe to set off:

  • Watch out for powder
    • Powder might leak from the packaging. The powder can range from various textures to colors depending on the firework. If you notice any sort of powder leaking from the firework, the safest bet is to not ignite it.
  • Check for torn packaging
    • The cardboard packaging is suitable for tears and other forms of damage. Do not tape the packaging because it could affect the flight path of the fireworks.
This firework …
  • Look for broken bottoms
    • Broken bottoms can be caused by the mass shipping the fireworks endure to get to sales tents. Bent or broken bottoms can cause the firework to not sit up properly or fire at a different angle.
  • Spot missing wicks
    • Wicks can fall out as the firework is handled and moved around. Trying to light a firework without the wick means it may go off sooner than normal. Don’t try to mod the firework by putting a new wick in.
The firework on the right shows signs of water damage. (KSNT Photo/Preston Wilson)
  • Examine for water damage
    • If a firework has suffered water damage, the packaging may become soggy and discolored, and could affect the ignition powder.

Regardless of if the firework has been ignited or not, proper disposal is important to avoid costly accidents. Avoid putting any fireworks in the trash with other flammable materials.

Be sure to water or hose down all of the remains and let them sit for 24 hours to ensure that all of the embers have settled. And above all, obey your state and local fireworks regulations.