• R.F Wittmeyer
  • July 4, 2016

Watching fireworks for the Fourth of July and other holidays has been a great American pastime for many years. Most people enjoy watching fireworks from a safe distance, but some people like to light off their own fireworks, and unfortunately, this can easily lead to a serious injury if the person handling the fireworks is not a professional. Let the professionals do their job and  reduce your risk of being injured this Fourth of July.

Many people think that they cannot be severely injured by fireworks, but that is not true. Fireworks can cause serious, life-altering injuries, including severe burns, eye injuries, loss of limbs, and even death. Fireworks have been getting more powerful over the years. Doctors often see cases where hands and fingers are actually blown apart. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 10,000 injuries a year are somehow related to fireworks, and just about 67% of those injuries occur around the Fourth of July.

Even legal fireworks in Illinois cause serious injuries. For example, sparklers burn at over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and may seriously burn the skin or clothing.

How do firework-related injuries happen?

Most firework-related injuries were associated with misuse or malfunctions of fireworks. Most victims recover from their injuries, but some injuries could be long term.

Types of misuse include:

  • lighting in one’s hands,
  • being too close to lit fireworks,
  • setting off a firework improperly,
  • mischief,
  • igniting too close to someone, and
  • dismantling fireworks.

Typical malfunctions include: errant flight plans, tip-over incidents, early ignitions, and blowouts. Additionally, smoke and debris were involved in some of the injuries as well.

Types of burns that a firework can cause:

  • A first degree burn. This type of burn has the intensity of a mild sunburn and should be treated with lukewarm water. Do not put ice on the burn because that could cause additional damage. Always follow up with a physician.
  • A second degree burn. This destroys the outermost layer of skin and extends into the second layer of skin, causes blistering, and these burns can be the most painful. Seek medical attention if you get this type of burn.
  • A third degree burn. This type of burn destroys both layers of skin and causes permanent tissue and nerve damage. Seek medical attention immediately for this type of burn.

Most injured body parts

  • 36% Hands and fingers
  • 19% Eyes
  • 19% Head, face, and ears
  • 11% Stomach area
  • 10% Legs
  • 5% arms

If you believe you or someone you know have been negligently hurt by the use of fire crackers, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today for a free consultation.

How to stay safe when handling legal fireworks

As stated earlier, most fireworks are illegal in Illinois, but some are still legal. This does not mean they are not dangerous, and the best way to avoid injuries: watch fireworks from a safe distance, but if you decide to buy some legal fireworks, here are a few tips to avoid injuries:

  • Do not allow young children or minors play with or ignite fireworks. In a 2014 study, children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 35% of the firework- related injuries. Just about half of the injuries happened to individuals younger than 20.
  • Always have an adult supervising when a child is playing with fireworks, even if the child is just playing with sparklers.
  • After lighting a firework, back up to a safe distance. Never stand directly over the firework, even if it is one that does not shoot up into the air.
  • If you light a firework, and it does not go off, do not try to pick it up and relight it again.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose close by.
  • After a firework has gone off, douse the spend device with plenty of water before discarding it in the trash. If it is not doused in water, it could possibly start a fire.

Have a safe Fourth of July and celebrate safely! Enjoy your picnic and the fireworks displays across the area. We prefer the firework show at Arlington Racetrack, but every town in the Northwest Suburbs have amazing displays!

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