Protect Yourself Like A Pro.

Protect Yourself Like A Pro

By: Matthew Kleinmann


It is coming up on another fireworks season. And New Year's is one of the most popular fireworks days of the year, and if you have not experienced fireworks on New Year's Eve you should try it.  With a nice dusting of snow on the ground, it gives fireworks a whole new dimension, as the ground reflects the light in the sky and you are literally engulfed in the bright lights and deeply saturated colors of the fireworks.


When gearing up for the season protective equipment is a must have and a big part of any professional fireworks show.


We all start our fireworks shows with the best of intentions but accidents can creep in. This is one area where we can learn from the pros, and get us a little bit of personal protective equipment. If you are going to be out running around lighting things off for people to watch, you want to ensure they enjoy the display and not worry about you!


My personal protective equipment is as follows:


 First, I make sure that I am wearing all cotton clothing that covers my extremities.  No shorts or t- shirts when I am shooting. This is a good idea in case something hot or flaming, such as a piece of the lift charge bag from a shell, lands on you. Cotton will not melt onto your skin.


Second, I always wear safety glasses. I would like to say this is mostly for protection from sparks and pyrotechnic things, but more often than not I tend to walk into things in the dark.  Regardless, a pair of safety glasses is cheap insurance for your eyes.


Third, you need hearing protection. If you do a lot of fireworks shooting, nothing beats shooters phones that allow you to hear normally until something loud comes along and then the phones will mute it.  I have had two styles of these. My first pair just muted above a threshold. This worked but they took a bit off getting used to as any impulse noise would cause them to mute.  My new pair compress the sound. In the quiet they actually amplify so you can hear better, and when it gets loud they attenuate. Both are totally mute when shells are going off but the new ones have a more natural flow to them. If you are in the market go to a shooting supply store and try a few pair on for size. If you just shoot fireworks once in awhile and are a casual shooter, those foam earplugs you wad up and stick in your ears work well.  Just remember with those you are totally out of touch until you pull them out. You cannot chat with your fellow shooters when a cake is going off for example. It can also be hard to communicate timing or other instructions if you are working with a group.


Fourth, head protection is a must. Pick up a hard hat. I loop my shooters phones through the webbing and keep my safety glasses hooked through as well so I just have one thing to grab. A hard hat will keep pieces of flaming debris out of your hair and protect your head in the event that an unexploded shell comes falling out of the sky.


Fifth, protect your hands. Fingers don’t grow back.  I wear leather gloves when shooting.


And lastly, I wear work boots when shooting. Oddly enough these are mostly for bumping into things with our feet in the dark.


Outside of personal protection equipment, use your head. If it is wicked dry out, hold off.  Even in good conditions it is not a bad idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand. If you shoot a lot look around and see if you can find an old air over water extinguisher. You can recharge these yourself. If you are playing in your backyard, have your hose handy.


99.9% of the time all of this will be overkill, but most of this is right out of the pro’s playbook.  Suiting before shooting will make you and your show seem that much more professional.


    Matthew Kleinmann Is a professional, licensed pyrotechnician and a staff writer for Mess’s Fireworks.