As Independence Day quickly approaches, so does the anticipation of outdoor BBQ’s, parades, pool parties, and of course, fireworks after dark. On a typical Fourth of July, fireworks caused more outdoor fires in the United States than any other cause of outdoor fires combined. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, backyard fireworks have more than doubled since 2000, and with the increase of fireworks, come more chances of property damage and serious personal injury.
Last year, Americans consumed over 280 million pounds of display and backyard fireworks. That’s nearly 10 times the amount used in 1976. As the laws have been changing, so has there been an increase of injuries surrounding the use of fireworks.
California is one of 39 states that allow consumer fireworks. However the California State Marshall only allows “safe and sane” products to be sold. Most of these products are now produced and imported from China. Although they are doing an adequate job of self-regulating safety issues, the regulations are still voluntary and more needs to be done to make safety regulations mandatory.
In a typical 2 week period surrounding the Fourth of July, approximately 11,000 persons are sent to the emergency rooms and over half of those involve children under 14. Over 31% of all firework injuries involve fingers and hands. Furthermore 25 % involve the eyes and the rest involve the head and face. Even though most of the injuries are burns, some blasts caused by bomb-like fireworks can cause serious personal injuries such as blindness, loss of finger or limb, lacerations or permanent scarring. Over one-third of all firework fatalities were caused by professional devices illegally sold to consumers.
In addition to personal injuries, structure and vehicle fires are a large problem associated with fireworks; both legal and illegal. These fires results in millions of dollars in property damage as well as injuries and deaths. If you have suffered personal injury or property damage due to negligence of another person using fireworks, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you through this unpleasant incident.
One of the safest ways to enjoy the Fourth of July festivities is by enjoying one of the professional displays in your local community. Here in California, laws vary by county and city and its best to check your local community calendar for a public display near you. In Orange County we are fortunate to have many planned communities with lakes to enjoy firework display over the safety of water. Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, Irvine and Laguna Niguel’s lakes will all have beautiful displays. In addition, the coastal communities of Newport Beach, San Clemente and Laguna will have beachside display from the safety of the beach.
Lastly, a few safety rules to keep your holiday safe:
· Always monitor children when lighting fireworks; even sparklers can burn fingers or catch clothes on fire.
· Don’t experiment with homemade products, always use “safe and sane” fireworks.
· Never bend over to light a fuse; always stand to the side.
· Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of any mishaps ·
Happy Birthday USA and stay safe!