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plan your own fireworks show

What’s more fun for a bunch of guys than blowing some stuff up? That’s basically what you’re doing when you host a home fireworks display.

You can even get the guys together before it gets dark to help you build fireworks racks and set up a staging area. Here’s what you need to do to make your next guy’s night explosive.

Buy the Right Fireworks

Before you even start shopping for fireworks, you need to consider what kind of display you want to put on. Familiarize yourself with the effects fireworks create so you’ll know what to expect when you light them off, and so you can bring to life the tableau you have in your mind.

The most popular firework effects include peonies, which produce a spherical break, and brocades, which produce cascading sparks. Waterfall fireworks, which break and then create a waterfall effect, are also striking. Multi-shot crossettes, which produce multiple large stars that break into criss-crossing spheres of smaller stars, are also affordable and impressive.

Build Tension Slowly

Don’t just go for the biggest, most impressive aerials. Build tension slowly by starting off with something less impressive, and lower to the ground, like a smoke bomb or a fountain. These types of pyrotechnics can emit sparks or smoke for several minutes, so they’re good for setting the mood. Work up to the large aerial displays with roman candles and bottle rockets. Then you can use mortar fireworks, cakes, and shells for the big finale.

Secure Your Fireworks to a Rack

Securing your fireworks ensures they won’t fall over while they’re emitting sparks. The last thing you need is a fallen mortar fireworks shooting pyrotechnics right at you and your friends.

There are plenty of tutorials online for building mortar racks, some of which can hold up to 50 or more mortar tubes. You don’t necessarily need to build anything elaborate, or spend money on a pre-made rack. You can cut a piece of plywood about eight feet long by two feet wide, screw a few lengths of two-by-four or two-by-two lumber to the bottom of it, and use that as your rack. Attach your fireworks to the long end of the top side by driving screws through the plastic bases of the fireworks. Attach them in firing order. You can even connect all the fuses so that all you have to do as the host is light it once and then sit back and enjoy the show.

Keep Everyone at a Safe Distance

You need a lot of space available to keep everyone back at a safe distance from your firing line. Figure out how high your highest aerial firework will go. You need to keep your audience one-and-a-half times that many feet behind the firing line. If your tallest aerial travels to a height of 100 feet, you need to keep everyone 150 feet behind the firing line. You’ll need to allow at least 300 feet of space in front of the firing line for a fallout zone. There shouldn’t be any overhead wires or branches above the firing line or the fallout zone. Structures and buildings in the fallout zone are also a no-go.

You can still light fireworks off if it’s raining – just wrap your fireworks in foil to protect them from moisture. No need to remove the foil before lighting – they will erupt through it. If it’s windy, though, you should postpone your fireworks show until another day. Anything more than a strong breeze could blow fiery debris in unpredictable directions.

Be Prepared for Things to Go Wrong

Chances are, nothing will go wrong during your fireworks show. But you should be prepared in case someone gets burned, something catches on fire, or even just in case some sparks or flaming debris rains down on you while you’re lighting fuses.

Keeping your fireworks secured – whether screwed to a piece of wood, lined up in a mortar rack, or thrust into a sand bucket – can go a long way towards protecting you and your audience from burns. Keep a first-aid kit nearby just in case. Since you’ll be close to the fireworks while they’re going off, you should wear safety gear: a long-sleeved cotton shirt, jeans, boots and socks, gloves, goggles, and a hat or hard hat. Since you’ll be handling burning objects, you should also be prepared to put out a fire. Keep your fire extinguisher, hose, or buckets of water close at hand.

A home fireworks display can be a super fun thing to do with the guys. You can build fireworks racks together, put on some music, and watch an amazing light show. What could be better than that?