July 4th firework displays are treasured by old and young alike. They’re a colorful way to remember how our nation began. There’s nothing more thrilling than the crescendo of an explosion of fireworks at the end of a jaw-dropping routine.

We know that celebrating the country is a time-honored tradition. We also know that this year, those group celebrations may mean a bit more, after so many months of sheltering in place. But there is a major difference between police departments and park owners who set off fireworks in controlled environments with experienced fireworks managers – and the local Joe who ignites sparklers in his backyard. If you happen to live in a town that has cancelled its fireworks display this year, you may be tempted to put on a big show of your own.

Alabama has a specific set of laws governing the sale and use of fireworks. Some of the key provisions are:

  • The seasons for legally selling fireworks are June 20 through July 10 and December 15 through January 2.
  • Buyers must be 16 years or older, or accompanied by an adult.
  • To display fireworks, the person/entity must obtain a permit from the Fire Marshall at least 10 days before the display date.
  • Fireworks should be stored safely.
  • Manufacturers must properly store fireworks and have an annual license.
  • Manufacturers must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The Alabama fireworks laws regulate the audible effect of fireworks.

Generally, fireworks must comply with US Department of Transportation rules and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) rules.

Types of fireworks injuries

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks start about 18,500 fires a year, causing $43 million in property damage. In 2017, about 12,900 people were admitted to ER facilities for injured due to fireworks. About 1/3 of the victims were children under 15. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 69% of fireworks injuries are burn injuries:

  • Hands and fingers: 33%
  • Head, face, and ears: 28%
  • Legs: 18%
  • Eyes: 9 %
  • Arms: 8%
  • Torso and other body parts: 12%

Which fireworks are the most dangerous?

Any firework in inexperienced hands can be dangerous, but certain types of products cause more injuries, more often, than others. Norton Children’s Hospital and the CPSC report that the leading types of fireworks that cause harm are:

  • Firecrackers
  • Reloadable shells
  • Sparklers
  • Roman candles
  • Bottle rockets

Keeping your kids safe this July 4th

Whether you obtain a permit to put on a fireworks display, or simply purchase some sparklers to hold up at night, there are a few things you should do to help minimize the risk of injuries, and avoid setting your home on fire.

  • Only adults should handle fireworks. We know little kids with sparklers is a popular Pinterest theme, but it really is dangerous. The sparks can ignite clothes and burn skin.
  • Make viewers keep a safe distance. Check the labels for the appropriate distance and cordon it off. Make sure that only the designated person (or persons) handling the fireworks are within the range.
  • Set up a specific area for the fireworks. Stay far away from your home and from any overhanging trees.
  • Keep some sand and water nearby. Sand will put out any fledgling fires faster than water will, but water is best for “dud” fireworks.
  • Keep a first aid kit nearby. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You should seek immediate medical attention for any serious burn injuries.
  • Never try to relight an unexploded firework. Instead, pour water over it, or wait an appropriate amount of time and put it in sand.

At Martin & Helms, P.C., our Huntsville personal injury lawyers have a strong record of success in holding responsible parties liable for the pain and suffering they cause and the economic loses such as medical expenses and lost wages responsible parties cause. Our experienced lawyers hold property owners, individuals, and corporations liable if they fail to follow state and local laws and if they are careless or negligent. To discuss your fireworks injury case or any personal injury claim, call us at 256-539-1990 or fill out our contact form. We represent anyone who is injured due to the fault of another – across North Alabama including in Huntsville, Decatur, Athens, and Madison.