Published May 13, 2024

Firework safety: Tips to make it an amazing show [plus by-laws]

firework being set off over water for extra safety

With the long weekend upon us, many of us are eager to shoot off fireworks in celebration. But safety should always come first when using fireworks. 

Here's how to make sure your firework show is safe and doesn't get you into trouble.

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Local by-laws

Did you know there were firework permits in Barrie? According to, you’ll need one if you want to sell or set off fireworks. Without it, you’re only allowed to set off fireworks until 11 PM on the following days: 

  • Victoria Day Monday (not the whole weekend)
  • Canada Day 
  • New Year’s Day
  • Lunar New Year (all 15 days)
  • Diwali (all 5 days)

That’s right. The neighbour down the street who LOVES to set fireworks off at 2 AM can get in trouble.

Learn more about Firework Safety on this episode of What Barrie's Talking About

These new by-laws came into place in 2021. Councillor Ann-Marie Kungl said residents had reached out to her from across the city saying that allowing fireworks five days before the actual holiday was too much.

Kungl said she fielded calls about fireworks being set off two weeks after Victoria Day, as well as concerns expressed about animal welfare and people who suffer from anxiety.

Barrie’s by-laws also say that you cannot: 

  • Light fireworks within 300 metres of schools, hospitals, nursing homes, health lodges, or churches without the City and the owner’s consent. 
  • Set off fireworks when wind speeds are higher than 40km/h.
  • Light fireworks within 300 metres near where explosives, gasoline, or other highly flammable objects are stored or produced. 
  • Light within 8 metres of a building, tent, trailer, camp, shelter or motor vehicle. 
  • Set off fireworks on or into any highway, public park or private property, unless permission has been given. 

Firework by-laws in surrounding municipalities

For fireworks regulations in municipalities around Barrie, click on the links below:

Adjala-Tosorontio | Bradford West Gwillimbury | Clearview | Collingwood | Essa | Innisfil | New Tecumseth | Oro Medonte | Penetanguishene | Ramara | Severn | Tay | Tiny | Wasaga Beach

You also need to make sure that any fireworks you plan on lighting are legal. We’ll talk about that in just a bit. First, let’s look at safety tips for setting off legal fireworks. 

Firework safety

Believe it or not, fireworks are explosives. While they may not do as much damage as dynamite, when handled incorrectly, fireworks can be incredibly dangerous. Here are some ways to make our favourite, colourful explosives not so dangerous. 


Before you even start dealing with fireworks, you should make sure you have everything you need in case something goes wrong. Some ways to prepare include:

  • Set up outside, away from flammables, on a flat, hard, and level surface. 
  • Store any unused fireworks in a box away from the lit fireworks. Don’t smoke near the storage box.
  • Read the safety distance written on all legal fireworks; people who are not lighting the firework should always be at that distance. The lighter should always back up to that distance after the fuse is lit. 
  • Have a bucket of sand, a supply of water, and a working fire extinguisher nearby at all times. 

Lighting safety

So, you’ve set up the launch site in your backyard. Now comes the fun part: Lighting it. Lighting a firework sounds easy enough, right? Wrong! There’s a lot of things you should do to ensure your safety when lighting a firework. 

  • Always light the firework at arm’s length with protective gloves. Eyeglasses are also recommended. 
  • Don’t wear loose clothing. The last thing you want is your favourite sweater to catch on fire. 
  • Don’t lean over the firework and keep your hair away from the fuse. 
  • If it’s been lit, don’t touch it. 
  • If you’re under the influence, or are under 18, don’t handle the fireworks at all. In fact, stay as far away from the fireworks as possible. 
  • In the scenario where you may have lit a dud, do not relight it. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before approaching it. Douse it in water and throw it in a plastic bag or bucket full of water. Let it soak for overnight before putting it in the garbage.
  • Don’t underestimate sparklers. While they may seem fun, they’re incredibly hot (1200°F to be exact). If sparklers are a part of your celebration, do not give them to kids; use glow sticks instead. If you do use sparklers, submerge them in sand after use. You’d be surprised by just how hot they can stay after being put out.  

Disposal safety

Once the show is over, here's how to properly dispose of your fireworks:

  • Soak your fireworks completely. To ensure they are properly doused, place them in a bag or bucket of water overnight.
  • Once soaked, carefully remove the fireworks from the water and drain any excess liquid. Place them in a sealed plastic bag to prevent them from drying out.
  • Check with your local waste disposal guidelines, but typically you can dispose of soaked fireworks in small quantities (around 10 items at a time) in your regular trash can.
  • Never put fireworks in recycling. Fireworks contain materials that don't belong in recycling bins and can contaminate the entire batch.
  • Some communities organize firework take-back programs after holidays. Check with your local authorities to see if this option is available in your area.

General safety tips

  • Read and follow the directions on the label.
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box until it is time to discharge them.
  • Never take apart or modify fireworks in any way.
  • Be respectful of your neighbours and mindful of pets.
  • Only adults who are aware of the hazards and essential safety precautions should handle and discharge fireworks.

Identifying Legal Fireworks

Illegal fireworks are illegal for a reason. They’re incredibly unsafe, and the results can be devastating. The most common culprits of illegal fireworks include, but are not limited to:

  • Throw-down Torpedoes
  • Cherry Bombs
  • Flash Crackers
  • Cigarette Loads
  • Trick Matches
  • Snaps
  • M-80 Salutes
  • Sprite Bombs
  • Firecrackers (without permission)

A quick and easy way to tell if your fireworks are illegal is by their labels and instructions. If they don’t appear in both English and French, they aren’t authorized for sale in Canada. But remember, not all bilingual labels are legal.

If you have any questions or concerns about your fireworks, don’t hesitate to contact the Explosives Regulatory Division at (855) 912-0012 , or through email at .

Have fun!

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