Burn Ban

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HijiNKS ENSUE Joel Watson at Connecticon 2011

My daughter only likes fireworks in 2 ways: big and far away or tiny and close up. We tried some bottle rockets and such last year, but she found the whole ordeal pretty terrifying. So this year we kept our incendiary festivities low key. Just a few smoke bombs, spinning flowers, sparklers, poppers and those little ones that spin around then shoot up into the air. We waited for dusk, then went down to the end of the cul de sac with our neighbors who have a son about our daughter’s age. All was going swimmingly. Things were smoking and sparkling and changing colors. Chemicals were reacting like nobody’s business. The founding fathers would have been proud.

Then, right as we were about to pack up and head out to watch the town fireworks display, one of the spinny-shooty jobber’s fuse backfired (I am still trying to figure out exactly how this happened). Basically I lit the end of the fuse and instead of spraying sparks outward as the previous dozen had done, it shot sparks down at my hand. It was like the fuse burned incredibly fast, or somehow the actual firework began to ignite as soon as the flame hit the fuse. I was burned on the left thumb pretty severely. I grabbed a popsicle, the only icy thing we had on hand, and kept it against my newly seared digit.

I’m not going to lie, I bitched and moaned like a little moany bitch. It fucking hurt. I mean IT. FUCKING. HURT. I kept a cold compress on it, and my wife went to the pharmacy to look for a miracle salve or a box of replacement thumbs. Here’s where the comedy comes in. She finds these little gel pads that you stick on the burned area with medical tape (which worked like a charm incidentally), heads to the check out (this is just before midnight on July 4) and three out of three people in line were buying burn remedies. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA! WE SET OURSELVES ON FIRE FOR YOU!

I feel like on the fourth and new years the pharmacy should put all the creams, salves, aloe and bandages right up by the front door like Wal-Mart does with the umbrellas when it’s raining or the cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving. These are high demand items and we don’t need to be searching all over the store for them! Especially considering the shopper or one of their loved ones is probably still a little bit on fire.

COME ON DOWN TO THE CVS PHARMACY FOURTH OF JULY MEGA BLOWOUT SALE! We’ve got aloe! We’ve got ointments! We got 50% off disinfectant sprays and buy one get one free bandages! We’ve got gauze so sterile, you’ll have to wrap it loosely around your seeping wounds to believe it!

COMMENTERS: Have you ever been involved in or witnessed a fireworks disaster? What about non-disastrous fireworks related shenanigans?

STORE NEWS: The HijiNKS ENSUE Store is closed for a few weeks so I can make some big, exciting changes. [READ MORE HERE] In the meantime you can still get shirts from Sharksplode and HE Book 2 from this very site.

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  1. A few years ago, my best friend put on a huge show. One tipped while it was lit, burnt a good square of grass away as well nearly catching his house on fire. We're smarter now than we were then.

  2. Right after the city fireworks show on Monday, my friends next door neighbor set off a bottle rocket into a tree on their front lawn, setting it ablaze. Since the neighborhood we were in is sort of party central for the fourth, there were a lot of people panicing. No one was hurt in the end, the biggest tragedy was that I had to wait about an hour to leave because the firetrucks had my car blocked in. It was very selfish of them to save lives while I wanted to go home.

  3. Ah fireworks. I have some fond memories of roman candle fights and sparkler bombs. Good times.

    Nice work on the lighting effects!

  4. I love cooking, however my agility in the kitchen leaves something to be desired. I keep all manner of burn medications on hand, because I often need to use them on my hands.

  5. a few years ago my neighbor almost lost his eye trying to relight a mortar, he now has an inch long scar on his forehead where the shell hit.

  6. I got grazed with a Roman candle one year. Hurt like a mother, but I was lucky and it didn't do any long-term damage.

  7. Every week-end the local professional Basesball team sets of mortars of fireworks after the game. Their really professional about it and the show they put on is great, but one time a mortar tipped over and a few rockets came screaming into the crowd not 40 feet from me. No one was physically hurt, but I imagine some of the kids around use will have some steep therapy bills.

  8. about 10 years ago, my friends and i had a bonfire to accompany our July 4th fireworks (because it wasn't hot enough already!). After more than 18 but less than 24 beers later, i was dared to walk on the hot coals on the perimeter of the fire, i was even allowed to leave my shoes on! my friend, an EMT, encouraged me by saying "chicks dig scars." That was all it took, and one drunk half-step later, i was face-down in the dirt, trying to take another step! by the time my buddy pulled me out, I'd acquired 2nd & 3rd degree burns on my elbow, lower leg, and ankle. the hot coals were even enough to melt the sole of my shoe from a diamond pattern to completely smooth! I'd had enough beer that using a bar of Lava Soap to clean the burns was no big deal. The next morning, however, was another story…

  9. I remember a few years ago some friends and I had bought a box-type firework; the kind that looks like a bunch of smaller tubes stood on their ends in one big box;

    The net result was that part of the thing fell off and ended up pointed at us whilst it was lit – lots of swearing and a few mildly singed jackets/hairdos later and we thought better of having our own fireworks in future..

  10. A few years back we're at a family friends for this massive party, not only is it the 4th, but my mother and the friend's husband were both born on the 4th, so it's a 3 in 1 birthday bash. Well, the family friend celebrating his birthday went out to light off one of those big box mortars that's like 50 shots in a box. It was dark, everyone was drunk, long story short he set it on the ground upside down and lit the fuse. No one was hurt in the resulting 360 degree rainbow-fire hell, but about 40 drunks got some cardio.

    • Actually I have another one my friend reminded me of. A few years back we did what we've done for the last 5 years or so, which is go out to the beach for the fireworks show and closely packed groups of people with far too much explosives. We were playing with "bottle rockets" I have to use quotes there because even though that's what it said on the package the things were the size of a pop can. One of these "bottle rockets" had a broken stick, which we figured was nothing, boy were we wrong. Apparently the length of those sticks stabilizes the rockets, cause this one went up about 10 feet turned shot straight into our camp and exploded under the foot of a friend who was jumping away in terror. His foot was mildly burned, his sandal was melted in a hilarious bowl shape, and we recognizing the danger set aside any more broken fireworks…
      JUST KIDDING! We immediately broke the sticks of a dozen more doom rockets and ran around diving and ducking and jumping like the idiots we were.

  11. Try Holland at New Year, it's the only time they are allowed fireworks (you can buy them from something like the 28th December until New Year (or at least this was the case 10 years ago)) and the whole place turns in to some weird war zone. We'd gone to see friends over their for New Year and the first news story was how a lorry with 1 ton of fireworks had been stopped trying to smuggle them in from Belgium. These were the completely non-restricted ones as the Dutch had stupid laws like no more than 1500 fire crackers per single string.

  12. The locals were pissed where we were because the police had told them they couldn't do their normal bonfire thing of getting a scrap car, towing it around town and then dumping it in the middle of the cross roads and setting fire to it as the previous year they'd melted through the road. Instead someone turned up with a dumper truck full of wood, tipped it out beside the road and set that on fire instead.

    As you were walking around occasionally you'd hear a much louder bang and our hosts would nod and say 'illegal Chinese firework'. Everyone took their mail boxes in the evening before so they didn't just have singed stumps on poles when they came back.

  13. I haven't been involved in any fireworks-related mayhem, but I have friends who have a yearly 4th of July ritual they call "Harry Potter". It consists of holding Roman candles and shooting them at each other. For some reason, they wonder why I leave the cookout before the fireworks start…

  14. Get yourself a nice, thick pair of long leather gloves. It'll save you a few layers of skin next time around!

  15. My cats are still terrified and I'm still waiting for the asshole neighbors to come clean up the firecracker detritus that's all over the place. And the cigarette butts and the Corona bottle caps and the paint can somebody dropped off their balcony. (The hell?) And is that a dimebag? So not gonna miss this apartment.

  16. I was visiting my wife's relatives in Anchorage, Alaska a few years ago during the Christmas Holiday. In Anchorage, the sun mocks you in july and won't set until like 1am, so they do their fireworking for New Years as the sun is set for like all day and they can light shit on fire.

    Someone set up a large flatbed truck thing on a front lawn to set fireworks off from (you couldn't do it on the ground due to the snow). Now wisely (no wait – what's the opposite?) they stacked all the fireworks on the flatbed, though to their credit, as far away as they could on the truck.

    Not surprisingly a rocket went awry and fired towards the stack of explosives.

    I've never seen prettier dives off the back of a flatbed truck in my wife. Sadly the truck didn't explode completely in a Michael Bay inspired earthshattering kaboom, but I did see a lot of pretty colored lights.

  17. No fireworks at our place this year because the 3 year old is absolutely terrified of them up close.
    So it is a matter of time before she joins the loyal fraternity of "July 4th Burn survivors". I did kind of miss it, but I will say there is less risk this way. When I was in high school I had a bottle rocket start a grass fire in the canyon pasture. Now cows were injured, but damn those things can move when they need to

  18. Would turning part of someone's driveway to glass with home made thermite and a volkswagen beetle count as a fireworks disaster, especially when it was pretty much done intentionally?

  19. Two words – Armageddon Log. In high school, some friends of mine set a large pile of fireworks on a stump in one guy's yard. We then poured about a cup of gasoline over the whole thing and lit it. Then we took turns jumping over it. Somehow no one was hurt, though it was a while before some of our testes were willing to come out of hiding.

    Not quite as shenanigany but probably even stupider was emptying road flares into glass jars and lighting them to see the glass get all melty and explodey, which was something of a junior high hobby for a couple of buddies and me.

  20. In the 70's, I watched the city fireworks from my rooftop, and had a bottle rocket zoom by my head. It came from the next block. It was so close, I felt the heat. I removed myself from the roof post-haste.

  21. One of my earliest memories is watching my dad and his best friend light our farm on fire with some roman candles. They had to bucket brigade it since there was no running water. My mom took me and my sister inside and we watched from our window as they ran back and forth, trying to keep the fire from igniting our house.

  22. My friend's wife is almost in a state of pure panic during the 4th, a semi-rational fear of her children being immolated (especially if you know their father). Her kids were trying to blow up one of those roll-along tank fireworks after it had been used (like every boy did ever) and the fuse went out. Well he just picked up the tank in his hand to check it, and she leaps from her chair in fear. Right as she began to say "don't pick it…", I yelled "BAM" right behind her, and she screamed like I had stabbed her. It was a perfect moment.

    Later that day, she went inside for a minute, and disaster struck. They had been preparing the huge "mortar" style ball fireworks, and one of the kids lit a little buzzer right next to them. As you would expect, it hopped right into the pile. All 12 kids and 2 adults yelled "RUN!" at the same time, but only got maybe 5 feet away before the explosions began. It looked like an action film as 5 or 6 detonated at ground level; children being thrown to the ground, other running for their life while streamers of fire passed right by their heads. After they ended and no one was found to be mortally wounded, we were like "That was AWESOME".

    She came out and said "What did I miss", and we responded, "Oh nothing, nothing at all".

    Definitely a moment those kids will remember for the rest of their lives though.

  23. Hi, long time reader first time poster. Love the site, the humor, the MexiCAN, etc.
    So there we were, 4th of July 2006. We had two boxes of fireworks that were about $40 each and my brothers and I wanted to spice things up by doing more than light them one at a time. I get the bright idea to string the fuses together or line them up in some way as to ignite the next group as the previous group fires off. It worked brilliantly and was more impressive than the big finales that came in the box.
    The next year we upped the ante. Along with the ground bloomers, the screamers and small flares (which i found out if you string enough of them together can cause temporary blindness) there was a new small firework that was shaped like a green cherry bomb. Those explode and then crackle. So I set to work and string the mega spectacular together. I ignite it and goes smoothly, it also went on for almost seven minutes. When the last one fizzles out I see a group that is completely intact. I walk over to the unlit segment and just as the sparkler touches the fuse, my arm is engulfed in a white flash. I leaped out of the fire and all the hair up to the middle of my forearm was gone.
    It was Awesome.

  24. We were vacationing up in northern Wisconson about 5 years ago. we purchased a 200 count saturn missle fire work among various other explosives. We set up on the shore of the lake where our canin was. We decided we wanted to angle the saturn missle launcher so it would shoot out over the lake. Rather than dig the front end in we raised the back end above ground to a 45 degree angle. The first shot went perfectly. the second shot tiped the launcher forward. the third shot propelled the rocket up and over the sand ramp we used to angle it. the other 197 all shot out at us who were at this point covering the younger kids from the incoming volley of missles or taking cover behind the beached cannoe (where i was). We could hear like 45-50 pings hitting the bottom of the cannoe. After a good 4-5 minutes it went silent, we came out from our hiding places, and went on with the festivities… which involved shooting roman cangles at each other… did i mention that beer was involved?

  25. My ging cousin burned the entire palm of her hand a few years ago because no one told her you are actually supposed to throw the black cats. We only let her have sparklers now for fear of philange-loss. She still likes things that flame at the top…something about solidarity.

    • Mine sounds so lame next to the rest of you guys, but even sparklers aren't safe: when I was about 3 I got a nasty burn from one. See, I knew enough to hold it by the metal end, but I dropped it and it went out in the wet grass, and in the dark I picked it up (grabbed it with my whole hand) by the wrong end. The HOT end.

      Luckily my Dad was right there and forced my hand into the nearest puddle (it had been raining), but I got a nice burn right across my palm.

  26. True story – our neighbors growing up had a no-kidding commercial fireworks license, so they put on an impressive show every summer. So every July 5th we'd go in search of unexploded ordnance. Mostly we just found a few ladyfingers or whatever, but one year we found a starshell that for whatever reason hadn't either gone very far or exploded. It was a round ball about 3" in diameter, with a tiny projection (about 1/4") that we took for the fuze. So of course we lit it off. I was the designated EOD guy, so I get the lighter, put this thing in the middle of the road, and touch the flame to the fuze. It flares, I take about 1 step… and you know how those city fireworks make the big bloom pattern in the sky? Well, that happened on the ground. Under my feet. Miraculously, no one got burned and we didn't start anything on fire.

    It was awesome!!!

  27. You probably shouldn’t have applied ice directly to the burn. Cold water is better, or so I’ve heard.

    • Vinegar is good too. Works better than cold water, actually; pulls the heat out more.

      So if you don't have cold liquid or what around, but you do have hamburgers– slap a pickle on it!

  28. "I feel like on the fourth and new years the pharmacy should put all the creams, salves, aloe and bandages right up by the front door like Wal-Mart does with the umbrellas when it’s raining or the cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving."


  29. As a kid I spent July 5 with a friend lighting off any incompletely burned fireworks we found. It's amazing I'm still in my original skin!

    I did see a real fireworks disaster and it was a disturbing sight. Every 4th of July there is a professional fireworks display at Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos, and for several years they set them off from a small island directly opposite us. (Unless they've stepped up their game in recent years, I don't recall the fireworks being that good; It was usually more interesting seeing hundreds of boats coming down the lake and then watching their running lights when they left afterwards.)

    One year, half way through the display, there was a loud boom and a fountain of flames and sparks on the shore of the island. In the space of a minute or two all the remaining fireworks cooked off on the ground, with some shooting at a low angle towards the boats and others into the trees, starting a fire. Some of the pyrotechnics workers were hurt, though I don't recall how serious were their injuries. It must have taken quite a while to get them ashore and then to the hospital in Honesdale.

    Happily, the fireworks have continued in later years without any further problems, though they now set them off from the dike along the shore near Tafton.

  30. Long ago at a school camp, when no adults were around to ruin the fun, someone in my class threw a full can of bug spray in the fire. Everyone scattered to the bushes . . .

    . . . and nothing happened.

    About a minute later we were just starting to hesitantly poke our heads out of the trees and PSHOOOOOOOOOOOO the can of bug spray shot up into the air in a tower of fire. It was spectacular, and the teachers had no idea what to make of the commotion when they came running shortly afterwards.

  31. Jeepers! I now consider myself a fireworks lame-o. The nuttiest thing I ever did was set off few bangers in a lift while 3 of us went up in it – no injuries.

    On the subject of best for burns. Grow an aloe vera plant. They are absolutely amazing – WAY better than buying the gel or lotion. You just cut off a stem, cut it open and rub the juice on the burn, keep doing it til the stem is dried out. Badly scalded my arm a few years ago, did this – No mark.

  32. Not sure if it was in conjunction with the 4th, but decades ago while a young lad visiting grandparents in Kansas we had a family outing at a nearby amusement park. There was a fireworks display at the end of the day. While a bunch of us park visitors were packed on a patch of lawn watching the show, either the wind shifted or the groundscrew got their bearings off as we were soon being showered with rather hot cinders. That was rather intense for a moment.

    Definitely not a 4th of July story: when I was an even younger lad, an idiot next-door-neighbor raided his father's dresser drawer where he kept some of his ammo. The kid proceeded with his friends to a neighborhood park where they then started to "shoot" them toward an empty lot by pounding a rock on the shell casing. I think I wandered by a bit after this began but was there in time to see the kid poorly aim his rock and hit the front end of the bullet, which ended up embedding the shell in his bicep.

  33. I remember several years back going to a festival on the Erie Canal and they had a professional crew setting off fireworks on the other side of the water. One of the fireworks tipped over and exploded on the ground and set one of the guys on fire. You could see everything clearly because the canal's only about 60 feet across where they were.

  34. I work as a paramedic in the city of Chicago. One year, in the projects, and young 4 year old got ahold of an M80 and a lighter, those being thoughtfully placed on the floor by his parents. He held it in his hand and lit it, holding it at chest height so he and his 2 year old brother could watch it blow up, like they watched the adults blow up the others.

    After theexplosion, the 2 were carried to me screaming and bleeding as my ambulance pulled up. The 4 year old's hand had been destroyed, turning into bleeding projectiles of bone shrapnel. These gouged out chunks of his arms and chest. The 2 year old took a finger bone to the left eyeball, and divots were torn from his face and chest as well.

    Both are permanently scarred for life due to the stupidity of their parents.

  35. The year I turned ten Grandpa Metz bought all of us grand kids about half a metric shit-ton of fireworks for the fourth.
    One of my less than brilliant cousins "decided" that we were all gonna have a fireworks fight.

    He decided this by lighting an entire package of bottle-rockets off all at once and aiming them in our general direction. Unfortunately our grandma's house was also in the flight path of his opening salvo.

    Out of 144 bottle-rockets, an impressive 22 managed to find their way inside grandma's house and scare the ever-loving bejesus out of a 67 year old woman, and a roomful of our aunts.

    Grandpa Metz thought it was funny as hell, but grandma didn't see the humor. (Until it was later pointed out that our normally sweet church going grandma swore like a sailor when those rocket starting shooting through her house.)

  36. Sorry, no fireworks horror stories from me. We always enjoyed setting off our own fireworks growing up, and it saddens me that we no longer can.

    The closest I have to a horror story: Once, as a young child (pre-10?), when we were lighting fireworks at my grandmother's house, a spinning flower went under a parked car, and I freaked. Everyone else seemed okay with it, but I was certain that we were going to see an exploding car that would wipe out my family. Yes, I panicked easily as a child. I panic less easily now. (For a given value of 'less'.)

  37. Not fireworks, but did get caught in a blow back from an industrial bark fed furnace once. Long story short it is unsetteling to open ones eyes and see nothing but flames.

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