Everyone knows that fireworks and firecrackers can be dangerous — just like everyone “knows” that the horror stories we often hear about will “never happen to them.” The reality is, these holiday accessories cause deaths and numerous serious injuries every year, and no one is immune. It’s important to understand the associated risks and hazards so that you can make sure you and your family stay safe during your Fourth of July celebrations.
What Fireworks Are Legal in Pennsylvania?
America likes to do things big. We have big malls, big grocery stores, big factories, even “big sky” — and nothing says “big” like a smokey, screaming display of multicolored fireworks blazing up into the night. As a nation, we’ve always loved a good spectacle, and our collective infatuation with fireworks is only growing. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that firework imports have increased by a mind-boggling 700% over the past three decades.
Of course, the matter varies state by state. But in Pennsylvania, many fireworks are perfectly legal, and others still may be permitted with local approval. To date, Pennsylvania imposes the following restrictions:
- Legal: Sparklers, Fountains, “Smoke and Punk,” Crackle and Strobe, Wheels and Spinners, Novelties
- Requires Local Approval: Firecrackers, Roman Candles, Bottle Rockets, Cakes, Display Shells, Sky Flyers, Sky Rockets
Fireworks Caused 8,700 Injuries Requiring Hospitalization in 2012 Alone
Statistically speaking, how dangerous are fireworks?
Probably more than you thought.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Fireworks Annual Report, in 2012 alone, fireworks led to:
- 8,700 injuries leading to hospitalization (for the year)
- 5,200 injuries leading to hospitalization (from June 22 to July 22)
- 6 deaths
That’s a staggering amount of injuries — especially when you consider that more than 5,000 of them were compressed into the space of a single month. Averaged out, that amounts to roughly 173 injuries occurring every day during the June 22 to July 22 period.
Among the six reported deaths, causes included:
- Severe Facial Injuries
- Blunt Force Trauma
The report also states, “Reporting of fireworks-related deaths for 2012 is not complete,
and the number of deaths in 2012 should be considered a minimum.“
The victims who passed away ranged in age from 17 years old to 61 years old, and all six were males. Males also bore the brunt of non-fatal injuries, accounting for 74%, with females accounting for 26%.
Children were another high-risk group in addition to males, with about 30% of injuries attributed to individuals aged 15 or younger. Taken together, you could argue that preadolescent boys are the most injury-prone demographic.
Ironically, sparklers — which are often dismissed as being unexciting — led to more injuries (600) than bottle rockets (400). The fatalities, however, were all caused by more powerful devices, including mortar fireworks, professional-grade fireworks, and homemade fireworks.
Certain parts of the body are more vulnerable to damage than others. According to the official USA.gov blog, the injury breakdown affected:
- Hands/Fingers: 46%
- Head/Face/Ears: 17%
- Eyes: 17%
- Legs: 11%
- Torso: 5%
- Arms: 4%
More than half of the resulting injuries were burns, though other injury types included lacerations, severe bruising, and blindness.
If you or someone you love was hurt by a firework accident in Pennsylvania, call the law offices of personal injury firm The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000 to schedule your free, private legal consultation. You can also contact us online.