Even though fireworks are beautiful and exciting to watch, they can also be potentially dangerous. Fireworks can cause damage to your property, harm your family or pets.


When you buy fireworks to use this festive season make sure that: 

  • you only buy fireworks from authorised dealers and shops displaying the relevant permits from the South African Police Service (SAPS),
  • you always accompany your children if they want to buy fireworks if they’re younger than 16, and
  • the fireworks are sold in sealed packages, as received from the suppliers.

Animals are easily frightened by fireworks and can become distressed or try to escape and run away. So, we encourage you to keep an eye on your pets and to keep them safely indoors where possible.

Firework safety tips:

  1. Make sure that your children and their friends are supervised at all times when around fireworks.
  2. Keep pets at home, in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to loud sounds. Make sure they have an ID in case they run off. 
  3. Don’t discharge fireworks indoors.
  4. Never keep lit fireworks in your hand, as this could lead to severe injuries.
  5. Fireworks are not allowed in residential areas. Only discharge fireworks at designated sites away from people, animals, homes and cars. Check with your local municipalitybefore igniting fireworks.
  6. If a firework doesn’t ignite, don’t attempt to re-light it. Wait at least 15 minutes before you try again.
  7. Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby in case of a malfunctioning firework.
  8. Sparklers can be just as dangerous. Always light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves. Never hold a baby or child if you have a sparkler in your hand. Put finished sparklers with the hot end down in a bucket of water as soon as they have burnt out.
  9. Only light 1 firework at a time.
  10. Don’t make your own fireworks.
  11. Only use fireworks as directed by the instructions printed on the package.
  12. Make sure that your clothes are not close or hanging over the fireworks when you ignite them.
  13. Don’t light fireworks inside any type of container.
  14. The Community Fire Safety By-law prohibits the use of Chinese lanterns.
  15. Never discharge fireworks whilst under the influence of alcohol. 


In terms of Section 30 of the Explosives Act of 1956, the use or detonation of any fireworks in any building and public thoroughfare is liable to a R200 fine; selling fireworks to a child or anyone under the age of 16 is liable to a R300 fine; and allowing a child or person under the age of 16 to handle fireworks without adult supervision is liable to a R300 fine.

Additional information:

  • Burn injuries happen in seconds, but can change a person’s life forever. It is one of the most common and devastating forms of trauma and have the potential to cause death, lifelong scarring, disfigurement and dysfunction.
  • The Burns Unit at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is the only specialised paediatric Burns Unit within a dedicated children’s hospital in Africa. 
  • Most firework injuries seen at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Trauma Unit, occur during the first week of November with injuries to the hands/fingers, face and eyes.
  • Every year the hospital treats approximately 3 500 children for burns (which includes children who are treated in the Burns Outpatient Clinic); approximately 1300 of these cases are severe burns. 
  • Children’s skin is thinner than adults’ and their skin burns at lower temperatures more deeply, making them susceptible to harsher burns with long-term effects.
  • In South Africa, burns is the third most common cause of accidental deaths amongst children under 14 years, exceeded only by motor vehicle accidents and drowning.

In the event of an emergency:

  • Cool the burn or scald with cold water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cut around material sticking to the skin – don’t pull it off.
  • Don’t touch the burn or burst any blisters.
  • Cover the burn with clean, non-fluffy material to prevent infection – cling film is ideal.
  • If clothing catches fire, get the person to stop, drop to the floor and roll them in heavy material such as a woollen blanket.

If you have information relating to the illegal sale or use of fireworks, you can report it to the Metro Police Call Centre on 0860 POLICE (765423) or to SAPS on 10111.

From New Year’s Eve to Guy Fawkes Day, for many, a celebration is incomplete without a good firework display. But before lighting up those crackers, it’s important to remember that it’s not just a free-for-all, and there are laws the regulate the use of fireworks in South Africa. Not complying with the rules could result in a hefty fine or time behind bars.

It is worth noting that there are only a few specific days on which the public may set off fireworks (these include Diwali, New Year’s Eve and, of course, Guys Fawkes). The use of fireworks in South Africa is regulated by by-laws under the Explosives Act, 1956. Before we get into the general dos and don’ts, always check in with your local authorities to see if there aren’t specific by-laws that apply to your particular town or city.

9 Important Things to Know About Fireworks Laws in South Africa

  1. Fireworks may not be set off in any public place. This includes in parks, on the pavement or the streets. Do note, shopping malls, restaurants, liquor stores and clothing retailers are also off-limits.
  2. Fireworks may not be sold by street vendors, hawkers or at any informal open-air facilities.
  3. Anyone who wishes to sell fireworks must have a valid licence, which is issued by the chief inspector of the Department of Explosives.
  4. It is illegal to detonate fireworks within 200 metres of any hospital, clinic, petrol station, old-age home, nursing home, or animal welfare organisation or institution.
  5. No one under the age of 16 is allowed to purchase or set off fireworks.
  6. It is unlawful for any person to point or direct a firework at any other person, animal, building or motor vehicle.
  7. No person or organisation is allowed to present a fireworks display unless formally authorised to do so by the Council (at least 14 days’ notice). Authorisation is also required from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Chief Inspector of Explosives. What’s more, a pyrotechnician and SA Police Services explosives expert must be present at all times.
  8. Fireworks may only be set off in designated areas between 7 pm and 10 pm on Guy Fawkes.
  9. Failure to comply with any of the above could result in a hefty fine or even jail time.

Should you become aware of anyone not complying with the law, you can call the police and report them. And, if you are setting off fireworks, remember to be considerate and responsible.

Fireworks and the Law in South Africa

Regulating Fireworks

Fireworks are a common method to celebrate a new year, Diwali and less known celebrations such as guy fawkes day.  Fireworks displays can be beautiful to look at, however, there are certain regulations when it comes to the handling of fireworks.

The Explosives Act

Fireworks in South Africa are controlled in terms of the Explosives Act 15 of 2003 (Explosives Act). There are also specific by-laws that regulate the use or exploding of fireworks. Firework dealers need to be licensed in terms of the Explosives Act. Only individuals in possession of valid licences may deal in the sale of fireworks.

Municipal By-Laws

eThekwini Municipality takes the Explosives Act very seriously. There are strict Municipal Bylaws when it comes to the use of fireworks. The unlawful use fireworks could see residents face fines of up to R10,000 (Ten Thousand Rands). The municipal bylaw allows for fireworks to be set off from 11.45pm on December 31 until 00.15am in the new year. There are conditions that residents need to adhere to. Low-hazard fireworks, such as fountains, lawn lights and sparkles, can be lit in private homes. Fireworks such as air bombs, supersonic bangs, sound shells, fountain whistles and screeches are prohibited as they cause a disturbance and are a nuisance to neighbours and pets.

Minors and handling fireworks

Minors are prohibited from handling explosives and this includes certain types of fireworks. Municipal bylaws also state that children under 16 years of age to be properly supervised by an adult when letting off fireworks.

Areas where fireworks should not be exploded

It is unlawful for any person to use or explode any firework within 500 metres of any building or any public thoroughfare. It is important to only buy legal fireworks and always check expiry dates on the fireworks. Fireworks should be detonated away from hospitals, clinics, old age/nursing homes, animal welfare organisations and petrol stations. Fireworks should not be pointed towards any person, as this is dangerous. Residents are also reminded that fireworks cannot be recycled and therefore they need to be disposed of appropriately, in black bin bags.