How to spot a dud firework - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

How to spot a dud firework

This missile firework which only has three of its four legs is an example of 'dud' firework that can easily tip over and put the observers in danger of getting hit (Source: Nathan Ellgren, KFVS). This missile firework which only has three of its four legs is an example of 'dud' firework that can easily tip over and put the observers in danger of getting hit (Source: Nathan Ellgren, KFVS).
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

It can be frustrating when the fireworks you buy end up not working. It can also be very dangerous if you approach a dud firework too soon.

If you’re planning to celebrate Independence Day with a firework display at home, there are some easy tricks to help you get the best bang for your buck at the stores and avoid dealing with duds after you light them off.

Rick Hoffman owns Hoffman Family Fireworks with his wife Mary Ann, and has been selling fireworks for more than 50 years.

He says customers should not focus on the just the name of a product or its color, but also on the safety of the item and its performance.

"When you first buy the firework make sure that you check it all the way around,” Hoffman said. “The bottom should be intact, it should feel good and weighted so it does stay down on the ground. Another thing that makes a big difference in safety is the type of cardboard and the thickness of the tube they use. It should correspond to the specifications of what type of charge is there."

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When he's shopping for fireworks, Robert Russell from Blodgett, Missouri says he looks at the prices of items but also reads the labels to know the type of firework he is buying and how to safely light it off.

"You may think you’re getting a sparkler and may end up with a roman candle,” Russell said. “The directions will tell you a safe distance to run. Most of them will say do not throw, do not hold in hand and it's important to read that otherwise you may injure yourself."

Russell says he has bought a variety of fireworks over the years and has experienced duds with just about everything.

For example, Russell says he's tried to set off two bottle rockets at the same time and had one of the fuses burn only half way down.  

"It's up to you whether you touch it, but do not," he said. "I would not light anything that has a millimeter left on the fuse. I would at least give yourself a good inch and a half of a slow-burning fuse."

An easy trick Hoffman suggests to make it easier to light a fuse is to use a fingernail to fray the very end of it so it catches fire easily.

For most aerial fireworks, especially multiple tube devices, Hoffman says there is an easy sign of a malfunction.

"When the firework stops and it’s cover has not totally dispersed or torn off that means you still have a tube or two that did not discharge,” Hoffman said. “That is a problem and be cautious.”

Before you starting lighting fireworks off this holiday, Hoffman says kids should always have adult supervision and should make sure the area is clear of trees and power lines, have a flashlight on hand and keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby to douse any bad fireworks.

"Even if all the fireworks go off, do not move them from where they are at until the following morning,” Hoffman said. “Many of these fireworks will have a spark inside. They may ignite later on. Don’t go putting it in a trash barrel, a dumpster or anything right away. It’s amazing sometimes how long it could go and still somewhat cause a fire hazard."

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