Spent fireworks and “duds” remain hot after use. If you don’t handle them carefully, they can spark fires and cause serious injury. Always keep water on hand, and be prepared to extinguish any fires that start. Soak fireworks in water after use. Then, wrap them in plastic and bring them to a local solid waste center. Be smart and be safe!
1 – Prepare a water source. Before you light any fireworks, make sure that you have a water source on hand. Fill a couple of buckets with water to dunk used fireworks and put out fires. Keep a hose or a fire extinguisher nearby. In a pinch, you can pour a bucket of soil or sand over a fire to extinguish the blaze – but water will be most effective.
2 – Dunk fireworks in water after use. Submerge them in a large bucket of water until they are thoroughly cooled and all of the embers have been extinguished. Soak for at least fifteen minutes, and soak overnight if possible. This applies to all spent fireworks, “dud” fireworks, and sparklers.
- For extra safety, soak the fireworks from a distance. Pour water from a bucket, or spray the explosives using a garden hose.
- It’s important to soak even the fireworks that don’t go off. Sometimes, “duds” explode late, causing fire or injury. Never try to relight a “dud” – wait 20 minutes after the failed detonation, and then soak the explosive in water.
- Remove the fuse from live fireworks. If you are trying to dispose of fireworks that have not yet been lit, make sure to pull off the wicks so that the explosives won’t detonate.
3 – Do not soak fireworks in or near a natural body of water. The compounds that are used to make the colorful explosions contain metals that can pollute the air, water, and surrounding ecosystem. Furthermore: if you set off fireworks near the surface of a body of water, the concussion can kill fish and other local wildlife. If your fireworks do explode above a body of water, make sure to promptly remove any visible debris from the explosive shell.
Disposing of Fireworks
1 – Pick up all debris. After your firework show, comb the area for any pieces that may have scattered in the explosion. Watch the fireworks as they fall to the ground, and mark their locations so that you don’t miss anything. If you leave a piece of burning material on the ground, you might start a fire! Furthermore, fireworks often contain metals and other materials that can pollute an ecosystem and contaminate the water table. Do your part to minimize your impact.
2 – Wrap the soaked fireworks. Use trash bags, Ziploc, or plastic wrap so that the wet explosives don’t dry out. Consider double-wrapping the bags. It’s okay to put multiple fireworks in the same bag, as long as it is sealed.
3 – Place fireworks in regular household trash. Fireworks cannot be recycled or composted. If possible, bring the fireworks to your local solid waste center. Make sure to tell the workers at the waste center that you are disposing of fireworks – and whether they are live, spent, or duds.
- If you don’t feel comfortable placing fireworks in the garbage, contact your local fire department. Some police and fire authorities will take fireworks and ensure proper disposal. This applies especially to live fireworks.