Spent fireworks still pose danger after being thrown away

Fireworks can make a holiday celebration special, but they can also ruin it if they aren't disposed of properly. This Montgomery County home was destroyed in New Year's celebrations last year.

Five Montgomery County homes were damaged last New Year’s Eve due to improperly discarded fireworks.

The use of fireworks on New Year’s Eve is believed to have originated in ancient times, when noise and fire were thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck.  While many look forward to discharging fireworks to ring in the New Year, there is an often-overlooked danger that proves unlucky for hundreds of families annually across the nation. 

During last year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, Montgomery County firefighters responded to five different home fires due to improper disposal of spent fireworks. 

In each case, leftover fireworks debris was gathered up and placed in garbage bags or cans that were then left inside garages or next to homes.  While the debris appeared to be harmless, enough heat remained to smolder and ignite, leading to a dangerous fire, often after the family had gone to sleep.   

Spent fireworks should always be treated as if they are live, and you should never return to a firework immediately after it has fired. Once cooled, you should inspect the firework to make sure that it has fired as intended, being mindful not to lean over the fireworks tubes. This is particularly important with multi-shot barrages which can, in rare cases, fail to launch all of their shots. 

The safest practice is to postpone clearing of fireworks debris overnight to give it time to completely cool.  If that is not practical, and presuming all fireworks have fired as intended, then we recommend dousing or submerging the fireworks in water then sealing them in a garbage bag to keep them wet overnight.  The bag of wet fireworks can then be placed in a garbage can, keeping in mind that the bag or can should be placed at least 10 feet away from anything that will burn.   

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