The 4th of July is just about here. In a “normal” year, Independence Day means outdoor barbecues and setting off fireworks. Unfortunately, this is not a normal year. COVID-19 will see a lot of people staying away from backyard gatherings, or socially distant grilling. However, a lot of people will be setting off fireworks to celebrate the holiday or let off a little steam from the pressure they’ve been under for the past few months.
Fireworks can be fun (as long as you’re not a dog) but they can also represent a serious risk of injury. Fireworks can prematurely explode, cause burn injuries, or even set a house on fire. When someone is using fireworks in a careless way or the fireworks are defective, anyone injured by fireworks may have a claim for damages.
Firework Burn Injury Statistics
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the majority of fireworks injuries are burns. Most firework injuries burn the hands and fingers, followed by legs, head or face, and eyes. On average, 180 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the time around July 4th. In last year’s annual fireworks report, there were 12 fireworks-related deaths and an estimated 10,000 injuries treated in emergency departments.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends leaving fireworks to the professionals. Fireworks, including legally purchased fireworks, can cause contusions, lacerations, and foreign objects in the eye. People looking to enjoy a fireworks display should be doing so from a safe distance.
Over 19,000 fires are started every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). A serious fire can be more devastating than a single firework injury because it can quickly spread, putting a number of people at risk of burn injuries, smoke inhalation, or death.
Fireworks Injuries in Pennsylvania
Philadelphia has canceled the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. According to the city, fireworks displays encourage people to gather, which is not recommended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the city will rebroadcast last year’s display on TV and online. However, this is not likely to stop some residents from setting off their own displays.
On Saturday, a man in Scranton died when using a commercial-grade firework. The firework exploded prematurely. The 31-year-old was killed instantly when he attempted to set off the device. This was the second fatal fireworks accident in Pennsylvania this month. Earlier in the month, a man in Lower Milford Township died when a shipping container of fireworks was set off. The chain of blasts went on for hours. A second victim was also taken to the hospital for injuries.
Without a public fireworks display, some people may be more likely to seek out their own fireworks to celebrate the holiday. The American Pyrotechnics Association predicts “an all-time high in backyard consumer fireworks sales and use as families prepare to celebrate Independence Day at home due to the pandemic and cancellation of large public celebrations.”
Treating Fireworks Injuries
A hand and wrist surgeon at the Rothman Institute, Michael Rivlin, M.D., wrote an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer a couple of years ago. According to Rivlin, “there has never been a firework display, even the grandest of grand finales, that is worth permanent disability.”
“The hand and upper extremity are particularly at risk since they are used to light and handle the fireworks. The extreme heat fireworks generate can obliterate the fingers and palm. We have seen flesh and bone burnt off or destroyed. In those cases, there is nothing left to fix or reconstruct.”
Options After a Firework Injury
If a loved one was injured or died as a result of a firework accident, the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian may be able to help. Our attorneys have years of experience dealing with burn injury accidents. Contact us today for a free consultation.