People have lost their fingers, hands, legs, they have been disfigured and they have even lost their lives, but despite the risk of injury or even death illegal fireworks will be shot off all over California this Fourth of July.
For the injuries that led to deaths last year, one was by a person making illegal fireworks, another held a mortar over his head, one fell off a roof during an explosion and another died after he set it off in a PVC pipe and it malfunctioned. In fact, there were 114 fireworks-related deaths between 2001 and 2016. That’s an average of 7.1 deaths per year for fireworks accidents.
It’s estimated that about 200 people are injured every day in the weeks surrounding the Independence Day holiday. Roughly 69 percent of all fireworks accidents involved burns with 33 percent being injuries to hands and 28 percent to heads, faces and ears, according to statistics compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Additionally, about 18 percent of injuries to legs and 12 percent to a person’s body. Injuries to arms and eyes accounted for 8 percent and 9 percent of injuries respectively.
Here in California, a number of serious injuries have made headlines. A year ago, a 9-year-old girl lost her left hand, fingers on her right hand and blast injuries to her face in an explosion at a Compton park. Illegal fireworks were the likely cause of the 12:30 p.m. explosion on July 4, 2016.
A San Jose man Alazar Ortiz, 40, was setting off illegally purchased fireworks on his mother’s driveway when one exploded in his hands. He lost his right hand and three fingers on his left hand in the accident. Sadly the construction worker also lost his livelihood, a family member told a reporter.
It’s not always people’s hands and face that are blown off in a fireworks explosion. One California teenage girl was watching fireworks in Marysville California when one of them exploded at her feet causing a major leg injury. The 14-year-old girl had to have her leg amputated after the July 4, 2004 incident. It was unknown whether the firework was set off by someone in the crowd or by the professional display she was watching.
Professional Fireworks Display AccidentsIndeed, the injuries from fireworks are not always due to illegal shows in neighborhoods, parks and beaches. Professional fireworks displays such as one in Simi Valley, California in 2013 can also go awry. That year the platform where the fireworks were stationed at toppled over and the ignited fireworks shot into the crowd of spectators. More than three dozen people were injured in the incident.
Four people were killed in 2016 fireworks-related accidents in the United States. Also, roughly 7,600 of the 11,000 people who were injured in fireworks-related accidents in 2016 were severe enough to warrant an emergency room visit between June 19 and July 19, according to 2015 statistics compiled by the Consumer Protection Safety Commision (CPSC). However, the good news is that the injury rate has declined by 43 percent since 2000 even though there are 268.4 million pounds of fireworks sold last year compared to 29 million pounds in 1976, the American Pyrotechnics Association reports.
Legal Help for Fireworks Accident VictimsUnder certain circumstances, if you are injured in a fireworks-related accident there may be a responsible party who may be held liable for your injuries and financial losses. In the Simi Valley case, a defective firework caused the incident and spectators were permitted to be too close to where the fireworks were being set off. Responsibility for the injured would be shared by organizers and the pyrotechnics company in a case such as this one.
To find out whether your injuries may be covered due to a negligent person, business or government’s actions, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at 800-235-6801. Johnson Attorneys Group offers a free consultation.
Safety Tips for Fireworks (CPSC) Watch this Video
- Young children should never play with or ignite fireworks.
- Never purchase fireworks packaged in brown paper. These are made for professional displays.
- Adults should supervise fireworks activities.
- Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never directly put body parts over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Light fireworks one at a time and quickly get out of the way.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- Douse the used fireworks with water from a bucket or hose.
- Only use fireworks in cities where it is legal.
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