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Before Independence Day Celebrations, Remember Fireworks Safety & Know the Dangers

It’s almost Independence Day, and if one thing is for sure, it’s that Chicagoans sure know how to celebrate. From backyard barbeques to parades to the Taste of Chicago and fireworks over Lake Michigan, there are celebrations, events, and festivals galore in the Windy City to celebrate our nation’s birthday. However, with celebrations also needs to come responsibility. Even though this time of year is enjoyable for people of all ages, caution needs to be taken and vigilance for safety should be high, particularly around fireworks.

While fireworks displays can be beautiful and an entertaining way to celebrate the holiday, it is important to remember that these are not toys but dangerous where not handled properly. Many times people may not remember that these are in fact are explosive devices and can cause serious personal injury if not handled properly, such as burns or facial injuries. These accidents can happen to people of all ages who do not exercise safety practices with fireworks, but particularly children who are not old enough or mentally mature to recognize and appreciate the dangers of these explosives or realize that they are not toys.

Injuries and accidents involving fireworks are not uncommon either. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year approximately 200 people go to the emergency room every day in the month of the Fourth of July. There are several parts of the body that are more prone to fireworks injuries than others. The most injured area of the body are the hands at fingers with 41% of injuries, with it being worthy to note that this is the part of the body that comes into contact with a firework when we light it. If we do not pull away from the firework soon enough when lighting, pick up a firework that is still lit, or use a faulty firework, this area of the body is easily prone to injury. The next most injured areas of the body are heads, faces, and ears at 19%, torsos at 15%, legs at 13%, eyes at 12%, and arms at 1%. It is also scary to think that the second most injured part of the body consists of some of our body’s most vital organs, such as our eyes and central nervous system of the brain.

Furthermore, the types of fireworks that cause many injuries are those that many people treat as harmless toys or games. Sparklers cause 12% of all fireworks injuries, and general firecrackers cause 23% of injuries. For example, sparklers burn at average temperatures of 2000 degrees. This is hot enough to melt some metals. This is why it is so important that even though people enjoy their holiday celebrations that they bear in mind that these are not toys but actually explosives that will hurt you when not handled properly.

However, fireworks injuries are preventable. If people follow safety procedures and appreciate the fact that these items are dangerous and to be handled with care, many personal injuries could be avoided. Also according to the United States Consumer Safety Commission, it is important to know the source of where you are purchasing your fireworks. Like we have discussed before regarding products liability, fireworks should also have proper labelling and warnings. This can ensure to a consumer that the product was manufactured, prepared, and inspected by a brand that is ensuring the quality and safety of the product. This is why people should avoid buying fireworks packaged in plain brown paper because this is a sign that these were not made for consumers, were meant for professional displays, and are being resold to regular consumers. Second, never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Instruct and educate your children that these are not toys so that they too can appreciate the danger of the fireworks. Always supervise children around fireworks displays and activities so that they may watch and be entertained by the show but not run into the explosion space that is unknowingly dangerous to them. Third, it is important to never re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. This could be a faulty firework, or it may actually just be slow to light but ready to go off. Instead, have a buck of water or a garden hose nearby for any unexpected mishaps. Then, even when they have finished burning, use the bucket or hose to douse them with water. This is an important step to take to prevent fires, especially before disposing of the used firework in the trash.

Our attorneys wish you a very happy summer and holiday season. We hope that you can use these safety tips to keep yourselves and those you love safe from harm. Happy Fourth of July!