Fireworks are a tradition on July 4. Before and during the holiday there’s another tradition — Americans being injured and killed by fireworks. June (through July 4) is National Fireworks Safety Month. Organizers hope that those using and viewing fireworks will be warier, and act legally, to avoid injuries.
Under New Jersey law N.J.S.A. 21:3-2, it’s unlawful for any person “to offer for sale, expose for sale, sell, possess or use, or explode” fireworks and explosives of any kind. An exception to the rule is for those who obtain a permit from their municipality, which is normally granted for the public, not private, fireworks displays.
The U.S. Product Safety Commission (USPSC) publishes an annual report on the injuries and deaths caused by fireworks, the most recent one covering 2014. Though watching (and hearing) fireworks can cause amazement and awe, so should the statistics about fireworks and injuries due to their use.
There were 11 fireworks-related deaths occurring in ten incidents in 2014. Four of those deaths were in house fires caused by fireworks. Several of those killed may not have been using fireworks. Seven people died due to the direct impacts of fireworks.
- A 19-year-old Connecticut resident died due to smoke inhalation in an apartment fire started when a friend of the victim’s brother threw a sparkler through a second-floor window to get the victim’s brother’s attention.
- Two Ohio residents, a 78-year-old male, and a 76-year-old female died in a house fire believed to be caused by falling debris from fireworks used by neighbors which fell onto combustible material on their back porch. At the time of the fire, the victims were sleeping inside the home.
- A 14-year-old Washington State resident was killed after a fireworks launch tube apparently exploded instead of sending fireworks into the air. He, his family, and friends were at a private residence for a holiday celebration. According to witnesses two tubes were lit (one possibly by the victim), there was an explosion, and the victim was found on the ground with a serious head injury. He died in the hospital nine days later.
The USPSC estimates that from 2000 to 2014 there have been 106 fireworks-related deaths, averaging about seven a year. For 2014 the agency estimates fireworks were involved in 10,500 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments.
- Children under 15 years old had 35% of the estimated injuries.
- Nearly half of the estimated injuries were to those younger than 20 years of age.
- Children from five to nine years old had the highest estimated rate of fireworks-related injuries at 5.2 injuries per 100,000 people.
- Parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (36%); head, face, and ears (19%); eyes (19%); legs (10%) and arms (5%).
- 54% of the emergency department treated injuries were burns.
If you enjoy fireworks, view them safely at a public display. Whatever fun might be had with backyard fireworks, the risk of injuring yourself, family, and friends just isn’t worth it.
If you have been injured, directly or indirectly, by fireworks, schedule a free consultation with our office by calling us at (973) 358-6134 or by using our online quick connect form. Statutes of limitations apply, so contact us as soon as possible so you can learn about your legal rights and take action to protect your interests.