Model rocketry has a very good safety record, but, although they are sold as toys, they still need to be handled with care.
Here are some basic guidelines that you should be aware of if you are thinking of buying a child a model rocket.
Recommended Minimum Age
The recommended minimum age for flying model rocket kits is 10 years old, and it is also recommended that an adult be present for a rocket launch if the child is under 12 years old. However, there are some states with different rules. In California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and North Dakota, there are age restrictions on the purchase of rocket engines and there are some other restrictions on the use of model rockets. More details about these sate specific regulations can be found by following the link at the end of this article.
Treat Rockets with Respect
While model rockets may be classified as toys, they are not something that kids should be playing around with. The biggest danger is not from the rocket propellant itself, that only burns for a few seconds and it is a lot less flammable than model airplane fuel. The biggest danger is from being hit by a stray rocket that could be flying at 200 miles an hour or so. That’s why common sense precautions, like staying alert, standing well back and treating model rockets with respect are so important.
Read the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) safety code
Model Rocketry is self-regulated in the US and the main source of safety guidelines is the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) safety code. This lays down a standard code of conduct for the construction and the flying of model rockets and it is an excellent document for youngsters to read when they get their first model rocket.
Only Use Commercially Available Rocket Engines
One of the biggest causes of accidents in model rocketry is people trying to concoct their own propellant. Stick to commercially manufactured engines and commercially available rocket kits available from reputable manufacturers like Estes, unless you really know what you are doing. You should also only use the engines that are recommended by the manufacturer for any particular rocket.
Do Pre-Flight Checks
Even the best model rocket kits can develop flaws, especially after they have been flown more than once. Always give your rocket a final check over before you launch it. Make sure it is stable on the ground and it won’t fall over when the engine ignites, check for any loose parts, and make sure that the nose cone is not on too tight and the recovery system is not packed in too tightly.
Use an Appropriate Launch Site
Choose a launch site that is in an open area and is away from buildings, highways, power lines, and any low flying aircraft. Also check that there is no dry vegetation near the launch site that could be ignited by the engine. Wide open spaces are best for safety reasons and it will also make recovery much easier as well.
At a lunch you need to be aware of what other people are doing as well as following some basic rules yourself. When you are preparing the rocket for launch, make sure that no one else if playing around with the launch controller. Make sure that everyone is clear of the launch area and give a loud and clear countdown before launching.
Are Model Rockets Safe
Model rocketry is and exciting hobby and safe one. Like any hobby of this type, you need to follow common sense rules and not take any risks. In fact, model rocketry is far safer than some other hobbies that kids could take up and it’s educational too.