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July 4th Fireworks: Beautiful and Extremely Dangerous

Seattle, WAAll consumer fireworks are, by their very nature, the little sisters and brothers of dynamite. This truism is not lost on the manufacturers of fireworks, or those that love to detonate them and feel the rush of power, sound, and light. All too often however, the responsibilities that come with such unmitigated explosive power are not carefully considered, and bad things result. It happens every Fourth of July, like clockwork. The question is what will you and your loved ones do to make sure that fireworks do not harm you?
The majority of injuries caused by fireworks are the result of misuse by consumers. Common mistakes include lighting the fireworks improperly, lighting the fireworks too close to other people, or lighting fireworks while holding them in one’s hand. Even when used properly, fireworks are dangerous explosives that can cause severe injuries. However, the likelihood of a firework injury can become magnified by manufacturing or design defects in the fireworks or a lack of adequate warnings.
Malfunctioning fireworks can cause injury in several ways. For example, improperly manufactured fireworks can explode prematurely, before users have made it a safe distance away. In addition, a defective fuse may ignite the explosive powders in the firework in a way the manufacturer did not intend, causing the firework to explode in an unexpected way. Finally, fireworks designed to soar through the air, such as bottle rockets, can take unpredictable flight paths, injuring onlookers or hitting nearby vehicles and buildings.

Whether the result of improper use or a product defect, firework injuries can be catastrophic. Reported fireworks-related injuries include loss of eyesight due to sparks and debris flying into users’ and spectators’ eyes, severe lacerations caused by debris and damaged firework shell casings, and burns ranging from minor singes to third-degree burns.

Firework Injury Prevention

Fireworks users can reduce the risk of injury by adopting the following safety tips:
Always follow the directions on the fireworks package, and never modify or experiment with homemade fireworks.
Never let children use fireworks without adult supervision. Even seemingly harmless fireworks such as sparklers still burn at high temperatures and can cause severe burns if used improperly.
Only set off fireworks outdoors, away from houses and fire hazards such as tall grass, dry leaves, and other fireworks.
Do not try to reignite used or malfunctioning fireworks.
Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergency purposes, and soak any used or misfired fireworks before discarding to prevent fires or accidental ignitions.

Firework Injury

Whether a spectator at a fireworks show gone wrong or the user of a malfunctioning firework, victims may be able to recover damages for their injuries. Depending on the circumstances of the firework injury, a number of legal theories may apply.

Entities hiring fireworks companies still have a duty to protect bystanders from injuries. Cities can fail in fulfilling this duty and open themselves up to liability by allowing the use of illegal fireworks or by failing to obtain the proper permits. When fireworks malfunction and cause injury, victims may be able to recover damages from the manufacture, the importer of foreign-made fireworks, or the local retail seller.
If you have suffered a firework injury, contact a personal injury attorney to learn more about your legal options. We have free consultations. 1-800-291-1821.