Do You Have a Fireworks Safety Protocol?

by Terry Bryant

The Fourth of July holiday is here. That means lots of flags, food, and fireworks.  But every July 4th, tens of thousands of people, many of them teens and young children, are injured when they celebrate with consumer-grade fireworks. Despite the dangers fireworks pose, few people actually grasp the associated risks such as fires, and serious burns, other injuries, and even death – turning a fun celebration into a life-altering tragedy.

In 2016, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that four people died and about 11,100 required medical treatment after fireworks-related accidents. And though some of these incidents were due to amateurs’ attempting to use professional-grade, homemade, or other illegal fireworks or explosives such as M-class fireworks, most injuries were experienced by children 12 and under from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers.

“You have to keep fireworks, especially sparklers, away from kids,” CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye says, adding that sparklers burn as hot as a blowtorch.

Additionally, more fires are reported on July 4 than any other day of the year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. On a typical Fourth of July, fireworks account for two out of every five reported fires. Each year, fireworks cause an average of 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and nearly 17,000 other fires, resulting in thousands of injuries and over $40 million in damaged or destroyed property.

New York Giants All Pro football player Jason Pierre-Paul filmed a public service announcement with CPSC not long after the fireworks injury that blew off part of his hand in 2015. In the video, he exhorts viewers, especially children, to “leave fireworks to the professionals.” The CPSC’s Kaye noted that even an exceptional athlete like Pierre-Paul does not have the reflexes to avoid injury.

It is illegal to discharge fireworks in the City of Houston and all but unincorporated areas of Harris County. You may transport them, but there are laws that govern how they may be transported. If you are caught discharging fireworks in Houston, in addition to having all your fireworks confiscated, you can be fined anywhere from $500 to $2,000 for each individual firework you possess.

If you insist on putting on your own fireworks show, and you’ve carved out a little spot where it’s legal to fire off your holiday explosives, you need a fireworks safety plan.

Here’s what the professionals say about fireworks safety.

  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • Never allow young children (10 and under) to handle fireworks.
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision.
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
  • Never light them indoors.
  • Only use them away from people, houses, and flammable material.
  • Light only one device at a time and keep a safe distance after lighting (20+ feet).
  • Never ignite devices in a container (like a tin can or glass jar).
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning “dud” fireworks.
  • Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.
  • Keep a bucket of water and some sand nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire.
  • Ideally, you will also have a CO2 fire extinguisher. Make certain it is fully charged and keep it handy. If fireworks start a fire, do NOT spray over the fire, but aim the nozzle a few feet away and spray at the fire’s source.

Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July

If you have questions about a personal injury case in Texas, don’t hesitate to contact Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law. We offer free consultations to help you better understand your legal options.