Cakes, snakes, spinners, shells, rockets, and candles all provide a fantastic way to celebrate the Fourth of July. And here in South Carolina, comparatively lax state laws concerning fireworks allow consumers to purchase bigger bangs than most other states. But with all that explosive fun comes the potential for serious injuries if not handled properly. With that in mind your Charleston personal injury lawyers and staff at Howell and Christmas, LLC would like to run through some quick firework tips, as well as provide additional resources, to celebrating our nation’s independence safely.
Without a doubt the safest way to enjoy fireworks is through public displays conducted by professional pyrotechnicians. But if you prefer lighting them yourself its important to obey local laws and use common sense. The National Council of Fireworks Safety (NCFS) says to only use fireworks outdoors and always have water handy, whether it be a garden hose or simply a bucket of water. Before you even start your start lighting up the summer sky, take the time to choose an open area with a considerable distance away from spectators, homes, buildings, and dry vegetation. Use a garden hose to wet down your launch pad before firing, as this will help prevent your patriotic display from turning into an unwanted brushfire.
And while it may seem like a momentary stroke of genius to tether four bottle rockets together, it could prove disastrous. Experimentation with fireworks is one of the leading causes of firework related injuries, so do not try to alter or combine fireworks in any way. When it comes to those frustrating “duds,” never attempt to relight it. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water. Alcohol and fireworks do not mix, and the NCFS suggests designating a shooter in the same way you would designate a driver for a night out on the town. Even a small quantity of alcohol can impair one’s judgment and ability to properly set up and use consumer fireworks safely. Despite seeming safer and more kid friendly, the tip of a sparkler burns at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit–hot enough to melt some metals and cause potentially fatal third degree burns. Thus, to prevent an unfortunate child injury, it is best to keep sparklers out the hands of children under the age of 12.
After all the works have been fired, the NCFS recommends placing all the expended products in a fireproof receptacle, and leaving it outside away from homes and buildings. Fireworks are beautiful to watch and certainly add excitement to the celebration of our nation’s independence, but they must be used properly to ensure they can be thoroughly enjoyed.
Also, today the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) timely released a study it conducted concerning the prevalence of firework related incidents and injuries around Independence Day celebrations. According to the study, 65 percent of last year’s firework injuries were suffered in a 30-day period surrounding the holiday. And more than half of these injuries were sustained because of consumers not using the fireworks as intended. As expected, the most common harm caused by fireworks were burn injuries to the hands and head, including the eyes, face, and ears. While a large majority of reported injuries involved emergency room treatment and release, the CPSC also notes that more severe and fatal injuries did occur during last year’s festivities. Further, in the four reported fireworks-related deaths, the victims involved were killed when illegal devices exploded.wrongful or accidental death