Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers Discuss Fireworks Safety this July 4thJune 30, 2015
The 4th of July weekend is synonymous with backyard cookouts and brilliant displays of fireworks. This coming holiday weekend is sure to provide plenty of opportunities for Maryland residents to celebrate safely at public displays of fireworks throughout the region. Inevitably however, some will choose to forego the public displays in favor of do-it-yourself backyard light shows. This can be extremely dangerous and in some cases, deadly. Mishaps caused by defective or improper use of fireworks are all too common, and may cause victims to suffer permanent scarring and disfigurement, blindness, and even death. In many cases, the person suffering injury is not even the one handling the fireworks, but rather an innocent bystander.
Dangers of Personal Use of Fireworks
Fireworks are a spectacular sight, but many people fail to appreciate the associated risk of using consumer fireworks. Every year, thousands of Americans are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries. Burns are most common, accounting for more than 50% of fireworks injuries. The majority of victims who sustain injuries are treated at the emergency room and released. At least 17%; however, require hospitalization for their injuries, which may include severe burns, lacerations, contusions, fractures, sprains, and amputations. Tragically, at least 11 people died last year in fireworks-related accidents. Many of those deaths were caused by a direct impact by the firework they, or someone else, was discharging.
Fireworks accidents and injuries tend to peak in the month surrounding the July 4th holiday. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), of the estimated 10,500 fireworks injuries that occurred in 2014, 67% of those injuries occurred in the month surrounding July 4th holiday. Last year, the CPSC conducted a special study between June 20 and July 20, and found that during that time, an average of 230 people are treated at an emergency room every day for fireworks injuries.
The parts of the body most commonly injured are the hands and fingers at 36%; followed by injury to the head, face, and ears at 19%; and eyes at 19%. Children aged five to nine years had the highest rate of emergency department treated fireworks injuries. Overall, more than half of those treated were under the age of 20.
Maryland Laws Regarding the Use of Fireworks
In general, consumer use of fireworks is illegal in Maryland. Some counties, including Baltimore County, permit the use of some hand-held and ground-based sparklers, but rules are specific and may vary depending on jurisdiction. Sparklers must be free of perchlorates or chlorates and be non-aerial and non-explosive. Paper-wrapped snappers are also allowed, provided they contain less than .03 grains of explosive composition. Any device that generates a loud noise or explosion, or that launches a projectile through the air or along the ground, is illegal anywhere in Maryland.
Safety Tips for Use of Fireworks
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is by attending one of the many public displays throughout the area. But if you prefer to use fireworks at home, and it is legal in your area, you can reduce the risk of injury by following these safety tips:
- Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
- Never allow children to play with fireworks, including sparklers.
- Though legal in some Maryland counties, sparklers are highly dangerous and should only be handled by adults using extreme care. Sparklers can reach temperatures as high as 1,800 degrees and can burn the skin or ignite clothing. Do not wear loose clothing while handling sparklers.
- Fireworks-related accidents and injuries can happen without warning. Therefore, adult or parental supervision alone is not enough to prevent serious injuries. Teach your children about the dangers of fireworks.
- Never use fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Always have a bucket of water nearby.
- Never attempt to relight a malfunctioning firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Those Injured in Fireworks Accidents
If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective firework or by the careless use of fireworks by another person, you may be entitled to compensation. At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, our Baltimore personal injury lawyers have successfully obtained more than $100 million in verdicts and settlements for clients injured in all types of accidents. Call 800-547-4LAW (4529) or 410-727-4991 today to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable and highly skilled Baltimore personal injury lawyers or contact us online. A member of our qualified legal team is available to answer your questions 24 hours a day.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Maryland, and we represent injured victims and their families throughout Baltimore and the state of Maryland.