One of the oldest American traditions is gathering to watch fireworks at Fourth of July celebrations commemorating Independence Day. The tradition goes all the way back to our founding fathers, who marked freedom from the British and the emergence of the new nation with pyrotechnic displays. Even at the dawn of our nation, lighting fireworks was not limited to professionals, as children and adults alike purchased and ignited fireworks on their own, with pioneers in the West actually using dynamite to celebrate.
History of heartache
Almost as soon as the tradition of fireworks began, injuries and damage ensued. Indeed, the historical record is littered with accounts of fires tearing through towns, and fingers, hands and eyes literally being blown to bits. By 1903, the American Medical Association began compiling statistics related to fireworks casualties and the numbers were staggering.
While modern professional fireworks can be awe-inspiring displays, the National Fire Protection Association statistics demonstrate the incredible danger that consumer fireworks present. In one year, fireworks caused an estimated:
- 17,800 fires
- $32 million in property damage
- 9,600 hospital visits for fireworks related injuries
On the Fourth of July, these injuries and damage literally skyrocket. Far more fires are reported in the United States on that day than on any other day of the year, and fireworks are responsible for 40 percent, representing the greatest single cause of fires.
Our own backyard
While the only consumer fireworks legal for recreational use in Florida are those classified as sparklers, which contain no explosive capacity, countless Sunshine State citizens are injured each year by explosive fireworks procured for approved purposes, such as scaring off animals. The damage from off-label consumer firework use ranges from relatively minor injuries to cases in which people lose limbs, such as a Pompano Beach man who recently lost his hand while trying to modify a readily available consumer firework.
For those injured by others’ negligent use of fireworks, speaking to a competent personal injury lawyer should be a top priority.