Every July, millions of Americans end their Independence Day celebrations with a display of fireworks. Most of us have great memories of fireworks — sitting on a blanket under a canopy of color or using a sparkler to write our names in the air with glowing letters. However, every year the holiday also brings with it injuries and damages related to fireworks. In 2008 alone, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported seven deaths and around 7,000 injuries from fireworks. Of those injured, 40% were children under the age of fifteen. More than half of the injuries were burns, with hands and eyes the most reported areas of injury. Also in 2008, approximately 22,500 fires were caused by fireworks, resulting in $42 million in property damage. With these staggering numbers, it becomes evident both handlers and spectators must take certain precautions with fireworks.
Know the Law
Laws regarding the purchase and use of fireworks vary from state to state, and even city to city. Most states, however, have at least some level of fireworks regulations. Unfortunately, this does not prevent many people from illegally purchasing and/or using fireworks. The CDC reports that from the years 2000-2005, illegally purchased devices accounted for over one-third of the deaths caused by fireworks. Before purchasing or using illegal fireworks, remember that such an action is punishable by law. Additionally, some areas have restricted the use of fireworks due to extremely volatile conditions like massive droughts or high winds. What you may initially dismiss as a pointless “nanny law” may actually be an important safety measure as a result of a very real danger. If someone in your area is using fireworks illegally, report them to the police.
Under no circumstances should young children be allowed to play with or around fireworks. Too often people assume items like sparklers are perfectly safe, however sparkler temperatures can get as high as 2000 degrees, causing direct burns and igniting clothing. The Consumer Product Safety Commission determined that sparklers are to blame for 16% of consumer fireworks injuries. And most of those injuries were to young children. Older children who are allowed to use sparklers should always do so with close adult supervision.
Use Safety Measures
Fireworks can be unpredictable, and often go awry or misfire. Spectators, therefore, should be kept a safe distance away. When lighting fireworks, use a long fuse or taper to avoid handling or bending directly over the device. Never use fireworks during dry or windy conditions, or near homes, dry landscaping or flammable objects as hot debris can often land far from the launch site. Always keep a fire extinguisher, as well as buckets of sand and water nearby. Do not attempt to relight or touch fireworks which fail to launch – soak them with water and dispose of them appropriately. Additionally, do not light fireworks near other stores of fireworks.
Ideally, the best way to prevent injury and damage from fireworks is to only attend professional events. However, if you do attend a function where fireworks are being used, by following the above safety measures you can help protect yourself and your family. If you or someone you know is injured as a result of fireworks, immediately call emergency services to provide medical treatment and prevent further damage. Additionally, you may be able to receive compensation for expenses and suffering related to firework injuries. Contact a Illinois personal injury lawyer who can assist you.
About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.