Fireworks heralding the Fourth of July in America is a tradition that dates back to 1777. Today, the holiday just wouldn’t be complete without the same fanfare lighting up the sky. However, as beautiful as the glowing red, white, and blue might be, it’s important to remember that fireworks must be handled with care, otherwise serious injuries can occur.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, injuries and fatalities associated with pyrotechnics—including seemingly harmless firecrackers and sparklers—have increased by about 25 percent in the past decade. Keep you and your family safe with these tips from Kansas City’s top fireworks personal injury attorneys.
How to Stay Safe at Fireworks Celebrations
When possible, attend public displays of fireworks and leave the lighting to the experts. There are just too many possibilities of injury with personal celebrations. Plus, in many regions, it's illegal to use fireworks at home, so always check with the local police department first.
If you’re allowed to set off fireworks, it’s wise to follow these safety tips:
- Never allow children to play with fireworks. Fireworks, rockets, and sparklers are just too hazardous. If you offer older children sparklers, they keep them outdoors and away from their face, clothes, and hair. Sparklers may reach temperatures as high as 1,800 °F (982 °C), which is hot enough to melt gold.
- Purchase only legal pyrotechnics (licensed fireworks are labeled with the manufacturer’s name and instructions; illicit fireworks are unlabeled) and keep them in a cool, dry location. Illegal fireworks are often referred to as M-80, M-100, quarterpounder, or blockbuster. The U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms indicates these explosives were prohibited in 1966, although they continue to be the cause of many fireworks injuries.
- Never attempt to construct your own fireworks.
- Always use fireworks outside, and have a bucket of water and a hose handy in case of mishaps.
- Never toss or direct fireworks at a person, vehicle, or structure.
- While igniting fireworks, don’t hold them in your hand or place any part of your body over them. Wear protective eyewear and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket, since the friction might cause them to explode.
- Light one firework at a time (never in containers made of glass or metal).
- Never join more than one fuse together at a time.
- Never attempt to relight fireworks that didn’t ignite the first time—this is an indication they might be malfunctioning.
- Soak all pyrotechnics debris in water prior to tossing them in the trash.
Finally, consider your pets and any neighboring animals. Fourth of July celebrations might cause animals’ delicate hearing to become scared or anxious. Keep pets indoors to prevent the chance of their escaping or being hurt.
What to Do If You Suffer a Fireworks-Related Injury
If you or your child is wounded by fireworks, go to a doctor or hospital immediately. Don’t touch or rub injuries, especially those to the eyes, since this might cause more harm. Additionally, don’t flush the eye with water or apply any ointment to it. Instead, remove the bottom of a paper cup, put it over the affected eye, and seek medical assistance immediately; your or your child’s vision may be at stake.
If the injury is a burn, remove garments from the affected region and apply cool, not cold, water—don’t use ice or ice water. Lastly, contact your physician immediately in case of any type of fireworks-related injury.
Injuries caused by improper pyrotechnics handling by a person or organization, or as a result of illegal or poorly-made products, may require a consultation with a personal injury lawyer. It’s possible you might have a case for compensation after a fireworks accident. A legal team skilled in the nuances of these cases can help safeguard your rights.