Fireworks Safety Tips

By Diane Tait

Image courtesy Pixabay
With the Fourth of July just around the corner, I thought I’d take the time to give all my readers some advice about fireworks.  While I know that fireworks are something that no Fourth of July celebration could do without, when consumers choose to light them off the results can sometime prove catastrophic.  Like it or not, in 2016 there were more than 11,000 injuries and four deaths attributed to fireworks in Florida.  In addition, there were numerous incidents of collateral damage caused when errant fireworks set structures or vehicles ablaze.  Below are several actual incidents to consider before you fill your garage or shed with pyrotechnics.

The Big Bang Theory
While most people consider fireworks to be toys, they are in fact explosive devices that pack enough of a wallop to maim or kill.  Here are three examples or Fourth of July fireworks gone terribly awry, as reported to the Insurance Journal.
  • On July 4, 2016, a 42-year-old male from Florida suffered fatal injuries when the fireworks device he was lighting malfunctioned. The victim was trying to set off large mortar-type fireworks in a PVC pipe that was anchored to the ground.
  • A 27-year-old male from Georgia died shortly after the new year of 2016 from a fatal fireworks accident. According to the witnesses at the scene, the victim accidentally placed a firework in a tube upside-down and then lifted the tube above his head. The firework exploded from the bottom and struck the victim in the neck.
  • On July 5, 2016, a 26-year-old male from Kansas fell off the roof of his home after a mortar type of fireworks device exploded in his hand near his chest. According to the witnesses, the victim was on his roof which the explosion knocked the victim of.

    Where There's Smoke

    Image courtesy flickr
    It doesn’t take commercial-grade fireworks to cause damage, injury or death.  Even something seemingly as innocuous as a sparkler can cause serious burns or set clothing ablaze.  While twenty-somethings had the highest incident of fireworks injuries requiring emergency room treatment, the second highest incident of injury were to children younger than 5-years-old.  Even firecrackers and bottle rockets can seriously injure an adult or child by causing burns to hands or even the loss of fingers.  Some of these injuries are caused by the device exploding prematurely, while others are the result of people handling a firework thought to be a dud only to have it go off.

    Aside from contact injuries, aerial rockets and bottle rockets can injure those who set them off as well as spectators. This is one reason why municipal fireworks displays are done well away from spectators. If a bottle rocket or mortar malfunctions it can easily explode on the ground or head in a direction other than the one intended.  This could injure a spectator or set a structure or a field ablaze.  Unlike municipalities, homeowners do not as a rule acquire fireworks insurance.  That means any damages or injuries caused by errant fireworks are subject to fine, lawsuits and potential arrest.

    The Rocket’s Red Glare

    Image courtesy Public Domain Pictures
    While the best advice I can give you is to leave the fireworks to the professionals, if you choose to purchase, store and use fireworks on the Fourth, there are a few things you need to know:

          1.      Never store fireworks in your home or car.  If they should ignite, the damage will not only be extreme, but your insurer is NOT going to cover you. 

          2.      Never light fireworks indoors or in your yard.  All it takes is one spark to set your property ablaze.

          3.      Don’t wear loose clothing, since a single spark is all it takes to set you on fire.

          4.      Always aim fireworks away from structures, woods and vehicles. 

          5.      Keep children, pets and guests well away from the fireworks, even if you have no intention of lighting them off for quite some time.

          6.      When you do light off fireworks, make sure you keep children, pets and spectators well away from them to prevent accidental injury should one fail to fly or fly off in an unintended direction.

          7.      Make sure you have a fire extinguisher at the ready in case sparklers, firecrackers or fireworks start a fire.

          8.      If anyone is injured, immediately rush them to the emergency room.  If left untreated, burns may result in scarring or impairment of the affected limb.

          9.      Instead of handing little kids a sparkler, which can reach temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees, provide chemical glow sticks that light up without burning.

          10.  Never ever let children light off fireworks of any kind and never light a firework you hold in your hand.

    Here’s hoping you have a safe and happy Fourth of July that lets you enjoy the rocket’s red glare without having to experience the red flashers of any emergency vehicles.

    Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance.  To find out more about how you can save money on home owner’s insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.


    1. Don't let a tragedy overshadow your Independence Day celebration.


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