Don't strap fireworks to your head

Brainless and now headless guy: They wouldn’t let this stuff be sold if it was really dangerous.

Weary friend: Dude, you bought illegal fireworks. What you’re saying fails to even come close to making sense.

Brainless guy: Here, hold my beer.

Weary: Nah.

Woman with child voice: I’ll hold it for you.


Mortar shells aren’t usually illegal in my State. Although they’re covered with warnings about tip-over and not lighting them while standing over them, and not letting children light them, and not lighting the shells outside of a properly positioned and braced tube.

Basically the lifting charges on those mortar shells are about as powerful as an M80 firecracker. Sometimes even more powerful, depending on the size of the shell and the altitude it’s supposed to detonate at.

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My uncle blew three fingers of his left hand when he was a young teen by making a homemade bomb out of firework gunpowder. He just has a thumb and forefinger that allows him to make a pincer grip on that hand.

Reaction of a European…

  • A guy in Calais dies from strapping a firework to his head?
  • French guys don’t do that sort of thing, do they?
  • Oh, there is probably a ‘Calais’ in the US somewhere.
    (watches video)
  • Ah. Right. That explains it.

Actually, it doesn’t explain it at all, it just conforms with our expectations. What’s with you Americans and things that go bang? Even after a few G&T’s I don’t fancy testing a prototype Top Hat and Mortar Combo. Yes, there are a few kids that goof around with bangers in the UK, and after Nov 5 there will probably be a few less, but nothing monumental like this.

Wow, here in dry California all fireworks have been illegal for decades in most municipalities. That doesn’t stop people from acquiring them, though. This year here in LA it was wall to wall insanity in some neighborhoods for hours on the night of the Fourth. In my youth we had “safe and sane” fireworks sold in temporary booths by non-profits. We were satisfied for the most part with the weak display provided. Cones shooting 12 foot tall sprays and whistling tubes. Bangsite powered cannons were the extreme end of the spectrum and were really discouraged by most parents. After a season or two of roof fires caused by experimenting kids (ahem) all those were eliminated.

I didn’t know these mortar type fireworks were available to non-professionals anywhere. I guess I need to get out more.

We are a country of more than 300 million. What you see on the teevee doesn’t represent us. A more representative American would be a boring and complacent desk worker. What fun is that, though?


At least those “voices” won’t be annoying him anymore…

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He probably lashed it to the side of his head (rather than directly on top of it). If so, then when the mortar launches, he’s going to get a torque effect on his head. His neck will snap back (or forward or to the side), perhaps violently, depending on the mass of the projectile and the propellent.

They often work as a team.


I went to a chemistry school. The multiplier to get the number of fingers from the number of students was slightly lower than 10.

In most cases, the culprit was acetone peroxide. That thing really earned its nickname “Mother of Satan”. Deceptively easy to make, emotionally unstable, prone to bursts of laughter on unexpected provocation.

Nitration is quite safer, if you don’t do it with glycerine.

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Apparently the ‘interesting fireworks’ were legalized in that particular state (Maine) in 2011. But there are plenty of legal things that are potentially dangerous, too. As many cannabis users can proclaim, legality and safety have nothing to do with one another. Just ask Monsanto…

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Why would someone even remotely think this was a good idea?

Ah, peroxides. I don’t know how much more stable the flouridated compounds used in anesthesia are, but a friend of mine who works at a hospital said that they came across bottles and bottles of very expired ethers once upon a time and their idea for disposal was to crack open all the bottles and pour them down the sink. Apparently without incident.

In my state, some drug enforcement agents clearing out a meth lab thought it would be a good idea to roll an outdated industrial barrel of ether (can’t remember which kind) out of the house. It was their last good idea.

Self-peroxidated ethers! That’s quite a problem.

Pouring them out is a waste of good fun (and a risk of an explosion in the sewers), and a risk during the opening. I’d go for a controlled or semicontrolled burn, possibly assisted by shooting at the bottles. FWOOOOOSH!

A whole barrel of such solvent, in such state, now that must’ve been a sight to see!

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Don’t strap fireworks to your head

Well, yeah, that’s kind of a no-brainer, amirite?


too soon?


@codinghorror: Looks deceive, mortars IME can be VERY dangerous. The video doesn’t show it very well, but those fireworks are quite powerful.

As the video shows, safety tip number 1: Do not look down the tube - that invites a mortar shot to the face.

Safety tip #2: DO NOT put the shell in the tube upside down. Classic drunk-mistake. That WILL cause the shell to blow the tube up spectacularly.

Tip #3, goes without saying: Mortars do not make good hats.

I’m guessing the gentleman in the story violated both rules 2 and 3 - he put the mortar in the tube upside down, and held the tube over his head, and as a result, the shell blew his head off.

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My guess is that he made the classic drunk mistake of putting the shell into the tube upside-down. Instead of launching way up into the air and exploding, the shell stayed in the tube, then exploded, blowing this guy’s head off.

A guy in Calais dies from strapping a firework to his head?
French guys don’t do that sort of thing, do they?

If this had been European Calais, there’s no question that these would have been visitors from across the Channel, and I wouldn’t have been that surprised.


Don’t use your chest either…
Another man killed after launching fireworks off his body — this time in Texas

A Texas man was killed early Tuesday morning after attempting to launch fireworks from his chest.
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One would say they’d do a dry run using a styrofoam figurine first…

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