Have a blast on the 4th of July with these tips for safe and fun festivities!

4th of julyHow are you and your loved ones celebrating the 4th of July this year? For some, the holiday is spent at a backyard barbeque enjoying the local fireworks display with friends and family. Others take the opportunity to get out of town for a few days and celebrate in a new place.

Follow these simple tips to avoid injuries and legal troubles this Independence Day. Continue reading “Have a blast on the 4th of July with these tips for safe and fun festivities!”

Sparklers: 4th of July fun or accident waiting to happen?

Sparklers seem harmless. You’ve probably stocked up on them before 4th of July picnics and cookouts and handed them out to your kids without a second thought.

But did you know these “toys” can burn as hot as a blow torch? Or that they are one of the leading causes of fireworks-related injuries? Continue reading “Sparklers: 4th of July fun or accident waiting to happen?”

Fireworks: Family Fun or Safety Hazard?

Fireworks are erupting in Ohio—political fireworks, that is. In recent years, state legislators have been hearing from advocates on both sides of the fireworks debate. Some feel that fireworks are too dangerous, and cite their life-altering impact on consumers, including severe eye injuries, loss of limbs, and even death. Manufacturers, on the other hand, are lobbying to legalize more consumer fireworks in Ohio.

firework-new-year-s-eve-rocket cropped

Last year, Danial Peart of Phantom Fireworks in Youngstown, Ohio told lawmakers that legalizing bottle rockets and other consumer-grade fireworks would lead to greater fireworks safety education. “History has shown that with a focused education campaign, legalizing consumer fireworks use actually decreases injuries to the consumer,” he said.

Dr. Gary Smith, director of the center for injury research and policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, sees things in a very different light. “There is no safe way to use backyard fireworks,” Smith said. “Every type of legally available consumer firework has been associated with serious injury or even death.”

Most Dangerous Fireworks

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 11,400 injuries due to fireworks were treated in U.S. emergency departments in 2013. Of those, more than half occurred in the 30 days surrounding Independence Day. Small fireworks, like bottle rockets, sparklers, and small firecrackers can appear harmless to kids. However, children younger than 15 years of age accounted for nearly half of all fireworks-related injuries.

Sparklers can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter. That’s as hot as a blowtorch! In 2013, there were an estimated 2,300 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers

Small firecrackers are especially dangerous to kids, who may try to light the explosives in their hand or relight “duds.” Hand and finger injuries account for 32 percent of all injuries.

Roman candles can cause serious eye injuries, including corneal abrasions.

Bottle rockets may seem like innocent fun, but they can also inflict eye damage and account for 70 percent of injuries to bystanders.

Fireworks Safety Tips

If you do decide to buy legal fireworks, be sure to take the following safety steps:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging; often, this can be a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Move away to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not gone off or fully functioned.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light one item at a time, and then move away quickly.
  • After fireworks have gone off and fully functioned, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding, to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Ohio Consumer Fireworks Laws

Although you may buy consumer (1.4G) fireworks from a licensed wholesaler or manufacturer, you cannot discharge any consumer fireworks (firecrackers, bottle rockets, etc.) in the State of Ohio. [ORC § 3743.65(B)] You must transport all fireworks purchased in Ohio out of the state within 48 hours of the purchase. The only items that can be used in Ohio are designated “trick and novelty” which smoke, pop, and/or sparkle. [ORC § 3743.80]

 

Sources:

Bill legalizing fireworks in Ohio clears Senate panel” by Jackie Borchardt, Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 9, 2014.

2013 Fireworks Annual Report: Fireworks-Related Deaths, Emergency Department-Treated Injuries, and Enforcement Activities During 2013” by Yongling Tu and Demar V. Granados, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington DC, June 2014.

Use Caution When Buying Fireworks

fireworks1If you’re thinking about buying fireworks to add some excitement to your 4th of July celebration in Ohio, think again. First and foremost, aside from sparklers and other small novelty items, fireworks are illegal for personal use in Ohio. While you can buy other types of fireworks in Ohio, all fireworks must be transported outside the state within 48 hours of purchase. Despite these laws, many Ohioans choose to set off a wide variety of fireworks, with some “backyard” displays rivalling city events.

Liability

So, what happens if your illegal fireworks display injures someone? If you break a law and your actions result in the injury of another, you may be found liable for damages under a legal doctrine known as “negligence per se.” This means if a jury finds that you violated a law and the violation was a substantial factor in causing the injury to the plaintiff, the judge will instruct the jury that they must presume you were negligent – giving a huge advantage to the injured plaintiff.

Check out our YouTube video for more information about negligence per se.

How frequently do accidents happen? The Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that there were eight deaths and 11,400 people went to emergency rooms for treatment of fireworks-related injuries in 2013 alone. Most of the accidents occurred within 30 days of Independence Day.

Beware of Illegal Explosives

All consumer fireworks are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and may carry a charge of no more than 50 milligrams of powder. Homemade fireworks and other illegal explosives carry special risks due to their unknown composition and unpredictability. These devices do not meet safety standards, may carry more than 20 times the permissible powder load, and often have a coating of dangerous explosive dust. Friction, heat, or even being bumped can cause these devices to detonate.

Homemade explosives can pose a particular risk for injury because the people making them often lack knowledge and experience in manufacturing fireworks. Most law enforcement agencies consider devices such as M-80s, M-100s, quarter sticks, cherry bombs, silver salutes, etc., to be illegal because they exceed CPSC limits for consumer fireworks, in addition to being banned by many States.

Remember, all fireworks must carry a warning label describing necessary safety precautions and instructions for safe use. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) warns consumers not to use illegal fireworks. Some indicators that a device may be an illegal explosive are:

  • It is sold on the street or out of the back of someone’s vehicle.
  • It resembles a roll of coins with a fuse.
  • It consists of a cardboard tube or oddly shaped item wrapped in brown paper and filled with an explosive material.
  • It is red, silver, or brown in color
  • It may be 1 to 6 inches long and up to an inch or more in diameter.

The ATF asks that the public report the manufacture or sale of illegal fireworks or explosive devices to local law enforcement or by calling the toll-free ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662).

All of us at Elk & Elk wish you and your family a very happy and safe 4th of July weekend.

4th of July – Fireworks Safety

Fireworks have become synonymous with Independence Day celebrations. Sold everywhere from wholesale distributors to the local grocery store, fireworks come in a wide variety of styles, each carrying its own risks.

“Every legally available backyard firework has been associated with serious injury and death,” Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, said in a released statement. “Although some people mistakenly believe that backyard fireworks are safe if only adults handle them, our research shows that one-quarter of fireworks-related injuries to children occur to bystanders. These children were not using the fireworks themselves and yet they were still injured.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 10,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in U.S. emergency rooms. 61 percent of 2011 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 34 percent were to the head.

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Fireworks guidelines

  • Follow local laws (see below)
  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Never try to re-light or pick up duds
  • Read warning labels carefully before igniting
  • Always have water handy
  • Light fireworks one at a time then move back quickly
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Never attempt to alter or modify consumer fireworks
  • Douse used fireworks with water before throwing them away

Ohio Laws

Novelty Fireworks like sparklers, snakes, punks, snaps and smoke bombs are legal in Ohio.

Consumer Fireworks such as bottle rockets, firecrackers, Roman candles and fountains may be purchased in Ohio only if the consumer signs an affidavit agreeing to remove the items from the state within 48 hours.

Professional Fireworks including display fireworks and pyrotechnics are illegal to purchase or use without proper licenses and training.

 

Sources:

Ohio Residents Advised Not to Use Home Fireworks over the Holiday” by Mark Kovac, Nordonia Hills News-Leader, July 3, 2013.

Safe Fun with Fireworks” Ohio Department of Health, accessed July 3, 2013.