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By Jim Adler December 29, 2016

Holidays such as New Year’s Eve and July the Fourth’s Independence Day should be times of celebration. But the fireworks they bring can cause many common fireworks accident injuries. Using fireworks also may be against state and local fireworks laws.

Fireworks Accidents, Injuries

Fireworks are explosives, so fireworks are inherently dangerous. Fireworks accidents have caused many injuries and even deaths.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that nearly 12,000 Americans went to emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries in 2015. The CPSC says children under the age of 15 accounted for more than a third of those injuries.

Over two-thirds of the injuries happened on or near the Fourth of July, the CPSC says. A majority of fireworks injuries were to the head (including ears, eyes and face), legs, arms, feet and hands — mostly the hands, which often are holding fireworks when they explode unexpectedly.

Losing two to three fingers is common, as happened to two NFL players: New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback C.J. Wilson, both on July 4, 2015.

According to Newsweek magazine, Independence Day this year brought such injuries as an Omaha, NE and a South Bend, IN man each blowing his hand off with fireworks. Other persons lost hands in Illinois, California, Florida and Michigan, with hands being blown as far as 250 feet away by a fireworks explosion.

Homemade fireworks can be especially dangerous. In July of 2016, a Houston boy, 15, taped together 200 sparklers. When the fireworks blew up, he lost part of his left leg, his face and hands were severely burned, several of his fingers were blown off and he needed screws inserted into both arms to hold his elbows and wrists together.

Fireworks accidents also have killed, as happened with men in Kansas and Florida last July the Fourth.

Fireworks Laws, Fireworks Lawsuits

Many types of fireworks are banned by Texas fireworks laws, but public display permits for using a variety of fireworks for special events are available for those meeting certain criteria.

Texas fireworks laws make it illegal for anyone to ignite fireworks within 100 feet of a place where fireworks or flammable compressed gases or liquids are sold or stored. It’s also illegal to “explode or ignite fireworks within 600 feet of any church, a hospital other than a veterinary hospital, an asylum, a licensed child care center, or a public or private primary or secondary school or institution of higher education unless the person receives authorization in writing from that organization.”

Cities and counties also have their own fireworks laws. The City of Houston, for instance, has fireworks laws prohibiting use or even possession of fireworks within the city limits.

State laws’ penalties for illegal fireworks possession or use include court fees and fines, but as a class C misdemeanor, do not include jail time. However, separate tickets can be issued for every firework possessed illegally, so fines can add up quickly.

Injuries or property damage caused by fireworks use also can lead to civil fireworks lawsuits.

Fireworks Safety Tips

Jim Adler & Associates urges everyone to be careful around fireworks on New Year’s Eve or on any other day. With that in mind, here are some fireworks safety tips:

  • Don’t save and store any fireworks. Buy just what you need, and use those fireworks soon afterward.
  • Light one firework at a time.
  • Use fireworks only outdoors and far from any buildings, vehicles or combustible items.
  • Do not use alcohol while also using fireworks.
  • Keep a water hose or fire extinguisher handy when using fireworks, and be alert to sparks which could start fires.
  • If a firework doesn’t ignite, submerge it in water and dispose of it. Do not try to reuse it.

The CPSC also provides more fireworks safety tips, while stressing that “Fireworks should be used only with extreme caution.” Let’s all observe fireworks safety so we can all stay healthy and happy to celebrate the next New Year’s Day.

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