Water rocketry IS a dangerous
You can, however, take steps to maximize your chances of
your next birthday party outside the hospital ward.
So what are the main dangers? Always expect
the following to go wrong:
||What can I do?
|Shrapnel from exploding rockets
- Keep well away from
pressurised rockets. NO EXCUSES!
- Test your rocket hydrostatically first
behind a barrier.
- Use materials that will do less harm when they
- Wear safety equipment. Eye protection at a
- Use a remotely operated abort valve on your
launcher to make a pressurised rocket safe
- Use a long hose to remotely pressurise your
- Launch your rocket from a safe distance.
|Rockets flying directly at people
- Ensure the rocket is designed to be stable during
- Only launch vertically, unless going for
distance in which case you must make sure the
range is safe.
- Employ good construction techniques that
prevent components falling off rockets during launch.
- Keep people well away from the launch pad.
- Secure your launcher so it cannot tip over
due to wind or pulling the release string.
|Ballistic return to Earth
- Design your rocket with a reliable recovery
system so it descends slowly. If you are
planning a ballistic return (lawn-dart) make
sure the nosecone is made of soft materials and
the rocket is lightweight.
- Instruct people to keep their eye on the rocket in
flight at all times so they can get out of the way
if the recovery system fails.
- Make sure all spectators are aware that a rocket is
going up. It does not matter if you are 30 feet or
300 feet from the launch pad. A rocket can come
- Only fly in open areas away from structures,
cars and crowds.
- When testing bottles to destruction wear ear
protection. Burst eardrums, and hearing loss can
occur from the pressure wave.
- Regularly check all your pressurising equipment
that nothing is loose or corroded.
- Rockets are not the only components that can
explode. Launchers, hoses, compressors, air
tanks and even high pressure bicycle pumps can
fail at pressure.
Use Common Sense. If something looks
dangerous, it probably is.
Don't exceed material ratings. It may
be tempting to push things to their limits to get more
performance from a rocket, but a failed launcher component
can be just as dangerous.
Observe local laws and
regulations. Always follow the local
laws when flying rockets. If you don't know
what the laws are then ask someone!
Don't shoot a rocket
towards any object or people. They may
Flammable liquids. Almost every water rocketeer has had
this exact same thought at one time or another about using
flammable liquids in water rockets. No matter how tempting
this may be just DON'T DO IT. The short lived thrill comes
at a great risk to your health.
Don't rush a launch.
It is always better to abort a launch if
there is a problem and try again later.
Don't launch in high wind
conditions. A rocket can be carried a
long way down range where you may not know
what it will hit.
Cutting bottles. Use scissors to cut bottles rather than a hobby
knife. Bottles are soft and a knife can easily
We present a lot of videos,
photos, designs and
experiments on this site. These sometimes appear simple to
do, but can get you in a lot of trouble quickly if you are not
paying attention. If you wish to duplicate some of the
things you see here please use common sense, and if in
doubt please ask. We are always happy to answer
As can be seen from our early
videos, we weren't always as careful as we should have been.
We have been lucky so far that no serious incidents
have happened although we have come very close on several occasions. Even though we have done hundreds
and hundreds of
launches, we continue to this day to get reality checks when
unexpected things go wrong.
Stay safe and have fun!