Every year, families across the U.S look forward to putting on their own backyard fireworks displays for Independence Day or New Year’s. Depending on local ordinances, and the type and quantity of pyrotechnics, this tradition can range from completely legal to a felony offence, but unfortunately, it’s always a serious safety hazard.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, home fireworks caused eight deaths and 12,900 injuries severe enough to require emergency room treatment in 2017. Those numbers are pretty typical, and have been since at least 2002.
Accidents Are Not Always the Result of User Error
Because of the questionable legality and inherent risks of fireworks, many people assume that they have “no one to blame but themselves” for firework-related injuries. Others believe that such accidents only happen to the drunk or irresponsible.
It seems only reasonable to expect fireworks to burn, fly, spark, or explode as intended, creating dangers that can be predicted and managed by a level-headed user taking the proper precautions. Unfortunately, this is often far from the case. Fireworks recalls are practically an annual tradition unto themselves, with products being found to tip over, explode unintentionally, or contain dangerously overstuffed cores.
Imported Fireworks Are Subject to American Regulations
Most consumer fireworks sold in the U.S are imported from China, where they’re manufactured by rural workers without specialized training, in conditions that often violate even local safety regulations. Accidents are common before the products even leave the factory. To make matters worse, 70% of these imports are controlled by a single business owner, whose monopoly makes many companies hesitant to complain, for fear of losing their supply entirely.
However, this doesn’t change the fact that the U.S has specific legal requirements for all fireworks, whether domestic or imported. These include but are not limited to:
- Wicks that burn for 3-9 seconds and can only be lit from the end
- Leak-proof seals
- Stable designs that can self-right from a 12 degree tilt
- Resistance to burnout or blowout
- Recipes free of banned toxic components
Importers and distributers of fireworks that violate U.S regulations or don’t function as intended are liable for damages.
Protect Your Family from Severe Injury
Firework accidents can cause severe burns and/or deep lacerations to the hands, legs, and face. Eyes are particularly vulnerable to the flying debris, caustic chemicals, and bright flashes of fireworks, and partial or total blindness can easily result from a momentary mishap.
The easiest way to stay safe is to stick to professional fireworks displays or avoid fireworks entirely, but if you must buy your own, make sure to:
- Keep a hose or bucket of water handy at all times
- Light fireworks one at a time and douse them thoroughly after burning
- Never relight a “dud” firework
- Put adults in charge of handling all fireworks, including sparklers, which can burn at 2,000 degrees
- Never point a firework at another person
- Keep fireworks out of pockets, as well as glass or metal containers, which can generate shrapnel
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a malfunctioning firework, call the Stoddard Firm right away, or reach out to us online. We have the experience you need on your side to hold negligent manufacturers and distributors accountable.