Fireworks can be fun, and in many parts of the country they’re an integral part of celebrating the Fourth of July. However, fireworks are a very dangerous explosive, which can get lost in the bright colors and wild shapes they make. On top of this, fireworks can be damaged even before they reach your hands, further complicating how to handle them safely.
Still, millions of Americans will watch or even participate in a fireworks show this Fourth of July. In the interest of safety, let's explore how exactly fireworks can be dangerous and what you and your family can do to avoid firework-related injuries this holiday weekend.
Safety is Important, But Not The Whole Story
Fireworks are far more dangerous than their widespread availability each year might suggest. An estimated 11,400 consumers sustained fireworks-related injuries in 2013, according to a report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Sparklers wreak more havoc than any other type of firework, accounting for 28 percent of all firework injuries in 2014 according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Unsurprisingly, fireworks can also cause fires. An estimated 15,600 fires were started by fireworks in 2013, the most recent year which statistics are available for, according to the NFPA. Still-lit embers can ignite trash in garbage cans, and set parts of your home on fire if they burn too hot or too close to flammable material. Grass, wooden structures, and other easily flammable materials are also highly susceptible to fires caused by fireworks.
It’s up to you to use fireworks responsibly, like keeping them from young children and pointing them away from structures or people. But what if you couldn’t have done anything to prevent an incident? Sometimes, fireworks are broken even before you begin using them.
The Rush Can Make for Danger
Fireworks often change from year to year. The U.S. CPSC frequently changes its requirements to better guarantee your safety, but consumers and manufacturers alike aspire for bigger, louder, and brighter blasts. This means manufacturers are trying to meet those new standards as quickly as possible, and may weaken the product’s integrity or use cheaper materials in order to do so.
As a result, fireworks are sometimes mishandled, shipped with manufacturing or design defects, or don’t include warning labels required by the American National Standards Institute.
Design of Manufacturing Defects in Fireworks
You’ve seen plenty of fireworks fizzle out without the promised explosion, leaving your expectations unfulfilled. The effect sometimes works both ways, and you could have a much larger explosion than you bargained for.
Design defects are a flaw found in all of a particular product. This could mean one type of firework from a specific brand can fail.
Faulty manufacturing is another reason for firework defects. A small percentage of all fireworks fail because of manufacturing defects, and have the potential to put you in danger. The defect must be present prior to the product shipping from the manufacturer’s facilities.
Generally, products are well-tested before they hit the market, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Look for brands you know and trust, and do your research. Online reviews or asking the distributors for their opinion can help you make a safe decision.
Another common danger found in fireworks is poor labeling or simply mislabeling. Fireworks go through many iterations, and may require different labels. The labels themselves are also frequently changed by the ANSI, and it’s up to manufacturers to keep up with the changes. Failing to warn consumers about the dangers posed by the product they’re buying can be considered highly negligent.
When fireworks are defective, they can put you in danger. Poor design or manufacturing are only part of the story. Distributors can also mishandle fireworks, compromising the explosives inside and making them deadly to use. As a result, it can be difficult to tell who is liable. However, a knowledgeable product liability attorney may be able to help determine who is liable for your injuries and how you can get compensated for them.
What if a Firework Injures You?
Fireworks are supposed to be fun and exciting, and you shouldn’t have to worry about being in any real danger when you use them. But this isn’t always a case. There’s a possibility you or a loved one could be injured or your home could be damaged by misused, poorly manufactured, or poorly designed fireworks.
Morgan & Morgan handles a variety of product liability cases, including products that can be dangerous or even deadly to you. We also do personal injury cases that go beyond product defects and involve injuries that owe to a negligent party.
If you were injured by a firework, even if it was your fault, a manufacturing defect or design may have contributed to the incident. Contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation.