How to Put on a Great Fireworks Show at Home

Looking for a way to entertain party guests on a warm summer’s night? Want to host a COVID-friendly, outdoor gathering? You should put on your own fireworks show!

Many states allow consumers to buy just about any kind of fireworks, so you can put on a safe and spectacular home fireworks show with the right supplies and the right plan. You’ll just need a large area – several hundred square feet – free of overhead obstructions, trees, buildings, and structures. Attach your legal fireworks to homemade racks, and practice good fireworks safety so your guests remember your display for all the right reasons.

Set Up a Viewing Area

The one thing you’ll need to put on a successful home fireworks display is a lot of space – that is, if you’re lighting off aerial fireworks. You don’t need that much space for ground fireworks like fountains and smoke bombs, but you will need large viewing and staging areas for bottle rockets, roman candles, mortars, cakes, and anything else that flies into the air and breaks overhead.

You need to keep your spectators at a distance that’s one and a half times the height to which your highest aerial firework flies. So, if the break on your largest aerial firework is 120 feet, spectators need to stand 180 feet behind the firing line.

Leave Plenty of Space for Fallout

Aerial fireworks can have breaks that are 30 or 40 feet wide, so hot and even still-burning debris can rain down over a large area. Make sure you have plenty of room for fallout – in front of your firing line, mark out an amount of space that doubles the amount marked out for spectators. So, if you’re placing your spectators 180 feet in front of the firing line, make sure your fallout area extends to 360 feet in front of the firing line. There should be no overhead wires, no trees, and no structures in or above the fallout area.

Build Fireworks Racks

You can buy fireworks on sale from online vendors or from local tents and stands, but there’s no reason to pay extra money for fireworks racks. You need racks to stabilize your fireworks, so they don’t fall over and shoot their explosive contents directly at you or your spectators. But you can easily build some fireworks racks out of scraps of wood.

To build an easy fireworks rack, cut a section of plywood eight feet long and two feet wide. Screw some lengths of two-by-two or two-by-four lumber to the bottom of it to give it some extra weight and make it easier to pick up and move around. You may want to use this rack for future fireworks displays.

Most fireworks have a plastic base. You can screw your aerial fireworks directly to the plywood by driving screws through this plastic base. If there’s no plastic base, there should at least be a clay plug in the bottom of the firework tube. You can drive screws directly through this clay plug. If you’re setting off mortar tubes, you can build a specialized rack to line up your mortars.

Dress for Safety

Fireworks are dangerous, and you should take responsibility for your own safety as well as that of your spectators. Wear jeans, cotton socks, boots or closed toe shoes, a long-sleeved cotton shirt, safety goggles, and gloves. It’s important that the clothes you wear be 100 percent cotton, because synthetic fabrics will melt into your skin if they come in contact with burning debris. Cotton will catch on fire instead – you’ll have a minute to smother it before it burns down to your skin, and there won’t be any hot, melted plastic sticking to your flesh afterwards. Put on a hard hat, a baseball cap turned backward, or some other hat that covers the back of your neck.

Keep Safety Supplies Handy During the Show

As long as you keep your spectators at the recommended safe distance, they won’t need to wear anything special. But you should have safety and first aid supplies close at hand. Keep a garden hose, buckets of water, or a fire extinguisher ready to go in case you accidentally catch something on fire. Keep burn ointment and bandages handy in case someone gets burned.

Build Fireworks Racks

A home fireworks show can be a great way to celebrate a holiday or just spice up an evening party. As long as you’re careful with your pyrotechnics, you and your guests can have a great time, and you can send everyone home in the same condition they were in when they arrived.