The season for fireworks is arriving, and for some it began on Memorial Day. With the spectacular displays, fireworks remain intriguing and exciting, and are still one of the few “free” events that most of us can see from our own backyards or city parks. While fireworks symbolize independence and freedom for our country, misuse of fireworks can also bring devastation when operator error or malfunctions in the product occur. Some injuries occur from professional firework displays, but most tragedies occur through consumer firework displays, involving homemade and illegal fireworks.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) cites facts, injury summaries, and preventative information about fireworks. They report that 8,000 people were treated in 2010 as a result of firework-related injuries, and that most of the injuries occurred among children ages 5-14. Consumer fireworks (those that are sold in specialty stores or roadside stands) are permitted in many states and are popular since they do not requiring any type of certificate or training. This makes it easy for fireworks to get in the wrong hands. Consumer fireworks come in the form of sparklers, Roman candles, firecrackers and bottle rockets, and are fairly easy to use. While many cities and towns have guidelines for the purchase and use of consumer fireworks, and many others strongly prohibit them in their entirety, here are some safety tips if you insist on the purchase and display of consumer fireworks:
- Never light or use fireworks if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Never allow someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol to use fireworks.
- Do not light multiple fireworks at one time.
- Make sure water is close by, whether it be a garden hose, a bucket of water or a body of water such as a lake.
- If a firework or sparkler does not light correctly the first time, never attempt to relight it or pick it up.
- Children should never be allowed to play with or ignite fireworks, even under adult supervision.
- If you must store fireworks until a certain time, make sure they are stored safely and out of reach of small children.
- Keep pets away from the area when fireworks are being used.
Firework injuries can cause death and devastating burns when used incorrectly, particularly when using illegal forms of fireworks. If you have been injured at a fireworks display, or injured as a result of malfunction of a consumer firework, it may be difficult to contact the product manufacturer to obtain a favorable response. Your best bet is to enlist the counsel of an attorney who can help you with your personal injury case.