- September 24, 2019
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Catastrophic Injury
When the sun sets on July Fourth, it’s always a safe bet that emergency rooms will soon be inundated with patients suffering from burns, eye injuries, and concussive trauma. This year, one hospital in Augusta treated 30 separate fireworks injuries, accounting for more than two-thirds of their patient arrivals for the day.
Summer may be behind us now, but for many of those who were involved in fireworks-related accidents on the Fourth of July, the results will last a lifetime. One 18-year-old in Georgia had to have his hand amputated after a firework went off while he was holding it. As a result, he may never again be able to play football or basketball, two of his favorite things.
Even so, he was lucky when compared with a 19-year-old in Texas who was also holding a firework when it ignited. That victim died from the blunt force trauma to his chest.
Georgia didn’t scrape by without fireworks-related fatalities this year either. In Columbia County, a 14-year-old was killed when a home fireworks display “got out of control,” forcing several people present to jump off a nearby dock to escape the explosion.
Many Accidents Are Caused by Faulty Fireworks
People often write off fireworks accidents as user error, or as an unavoidable hazard of this beloved holiday tradition. While reckless handling is a factor in some incidents, a major part of the danger come from irresponsible manufacturing and quality control practices.
This year alone, the federal government had to issue recalls for nearly 40,000 fireworks across four different companies, all of which were believed to have dangerously overstuffed cores. Overstuffed cores can cause fireworks to go off more explosively than expected, potentially leading to injury and death.
Because of the seasonal nature of fireworks sales, there wasn’t much time for the recall process to work, and consumers were only notified of the danger one week before their Fourth of July celebrations. There’s no telling how many of the defective fireworks were returned, and how many were used anyway.
U.S Manufacturers and Distributors Are Responsible for Their Products, Regardless of Where They’re Made
Almost all fireworks used or sold in the U.S are manufactured in China, and at least 70% of these imports are controlled by a single man, known in the industry as “Mr. Ding.” One U.S distributor even filed an antitrust suit against one of Mr. Ding’s companies this year, alleging price-fixing and exorbitant shipping fees.
With so little competition, U.S fireworks companies don’t have much freedom to shop around for their inventory, or to complain if it’s subpar, but that doesn’t relieve them of their duty to make sure their products are safe. All fireworks sold in the U.S are required to adhere to U.S safety standards, just like any other product. If a U.S clothing company were to sell infant clothes that posed a choking hazard, for example, the fact that the clothes were manufactured in China would be no excuse. Fireworks should be treated no differently.
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
You can also view this guide for more firework safety tips: https://securitybaron.com/blog/security-tips/tips-for-fireworks-safety/.
If you or a loved one have been injured by fireworks you believe may have been faulty, call The Stoddard Firm right away for a free consultation.