For many Americans, the Fourth of July is a day to lounge by the pool, barbecue and watch fireworks. But before you celebrate with a bang this year, make sure you’re prepared.
Firework injuries are preventable, but we still found a 26% increase in injuries from 2018 to 2021. One of the most alarming statistics concerns adults between the ages of 45 and 64, who saw a 367% jump in firework-related injuries during that time period.
Firework damage and injuries by the numbers
- Firework-related injuries increased by 26% from 2018 to 2021.
- Injuries due to fireworks increased by 367% among adults ages 45 to 64.
- Women saw an increase of 75% in injuries due to fireworks, while injuries for men increased by only 39%.
- Nearly 74% of all fireworks-related injuries happened between June 18, 2021, and July 18, 2021.
- Firecrackers were the leading cause of emergency room visits, with a total of 1,500 injuries.
- Sparkler injuries increased by 120%, while Roman candle injuries decreased by 50%.
There were 15,600 fireworks-related injuries in 2020 — a 56% increase from 2019 and the highest number of injuries since 2005. Certain age ranges and demographics saw even more dramatic changes. For example, although fireworks-related injuries increased the least among children ages 5 to 14, they increased by 100% among the youngest demographic, zero- to 4-year-olds.
We also found significant changes in the type of fireworks involved in each injury. Injuries involving sparklers increased by 120%, while Roman candles were the only type of fireworks to see a decrease.
|Age range||# of injuries in 2018||# of injuries in 2021||% change from 2018-2021|
|Gender||# of injuries in 2018||# of injuries in 2021||% change from 2018-2021|
|Fireworks type||# of injuries in 2018||# of injuries in 2021||% change from 2018-2021|
What’s behind the increase in firework-related injuries and deaths? Nearly 80% of fireworks shows were canceled in 2020. As a result, we conclude that more Americans celebrated at home, leading to a drastic increase in the number of people hurt by fireworks. Additionally, laws allowing access to consumer fireworks have become far more relaxed in recent years.
Are you covered for fireworks damage?
While most people know fireworks can be unsafe, many assume homeowners insurance covers any damage they cause. Although this is usually true — homeowners insurance policies cover most fires — there are exceptions.
Whether your policy covers damage due to fireworks depends on your state's laws. It also depends on your specific circumstances. What is the best way to find out if you’re in the clear? Check your policy or contact your agent.
“Legal fireworks, when used responsibly, are a wonderful addition to any Fourth of July celebration However, it's best to leave high-powered pyrotechnics to the pros. The injuries and damage that illegal fireworks can cause are simply not worth risking." — Rob Bhatt, QuoteWizard Analyst
Besides talking to an agent, check your local and state laws before attempting to file a claim. After all, these three states ban consumer fireworks:
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the following states allow only wire or wood-stick sparklers and similar novelty items:
Federal guidelines for the other 43 states and the District of Columbia allow varying levels of consumer fireworks. Depending on where you live, you may need a permit to handle certain fireworks on the Fourth of July or on any other day. Consult the American Pyrotechnics Association's Directory of State Laws for more detailed information.
Injuries caused by fireworks
Your homeowners policy steps in if your fireworks injure someone else. The liability portion of your policy usually pays the other person’s medical bills and your legal expenses.
But keep in mind that this may not always be true. For example, if you use fireworks illegally and they damage property or hurt someone, your insurer won’t help. Also, your insurer won’t pay your claim if an injury isn't accidental.
Damage to your house
If a firework accidentally starts a fire in your house, your homeowners policy should cover you. But if you intentionally cause a fire by setting off a firecracker, don’t look for insurance to come to your aid. This also holds true if you’re using fireworks illegally.
And if a neighbor’s fireworks start a fire in your house? Your insurer likely will sue them for the loss.
On a related note, insurance companies often look at the following when a customer files a claim for firework damage:
- Type of fireworks used
- Experience and age of those using the fireworks
- Weather conditions
- Physical surroundings of where the fireworks were used
- Pyrotechnic safety precautions in place
Although pretty to look at, firecrackers and the like can cause serious injuries. So, if you’re going to celebrate the Fourth of July with firecrackers or other explosives, consider taking the following precautions before the festivities begin:
- Always have adult supervision when handling fireworks.
- Never use fireworks while intoxicated.
- Don’t let children play with fireworks, including sparklers.
- It should go without saying, but don’t throw or aim fireworks at other people.
- Have a hose, bucket of water, or fire extinguisher nearby.
- Always wear safety glasses when lighting fireworks.
- Keep all spectators at a reasonably safe distance.
- Keep dogs and other pets away from fireworks, too.
- Follow and read the directions carefully.
- Allow used fireworks to stand for at least 20 minutes.
- Later, cover them in water, then drain and put them in a plastic bag before throwing them away.
- Do the same with any “duds” that don’t go off after a few minutes.
- Also, don’t try to relight these duds.
- Never shoot fireworks from a metal or glass container.
- Only use fireworks outdoors on a flat, fireproof, hard surface that’s free from flammable material.
- Don’t put any body parts near a firework.
Data sourced from Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) 2021 Fireworks Annual Report from 2018 to 2021. Previous year data was compared with 2018 data to calculate changes in injuries.
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