Fourth of July Fireworks Dangers

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Americans come together for BBQs, celebrations, and fireworks on the Fourth of July. In fact, Independence Day and fireworks have become so closely associated with each other, it’s almost impossible to imagine the holiday without the excitement of fireworks. Although the bright lights and spectacle of fireworks make for a fantastic celebration, they can also cause fireworks injuries or even fatalities.

Fireworks are dangerous explosives, and precautions should be taken before using them. To help you with that, we’ve compiled some important facts about fireworks and their potential dangers. We’ve also tried to answer some important questions that people should consider when they are thinking of adding some fun with fireworks as part of their Fourth of July holiday.

And if you or a loved one are injured by an illegal fireworks show, be sure to discuss your legal options with an experienced Chicago fireworks injury lawyer.

Types of Fireworks and Their Risks

Fireworks generally come in two main categories, consumer and professional. Consumer grade fireworks are the types of fireworks that can be bought at retail stores such as sparklers, fountains, and ground spinners. While these types of fireworks may produce a dazzling display of lights and noise, they can still pose risks.

Professional-grade fireworks include aerial shells, rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, and other large displays. These are much more powerful than common consumer fireworks and should only be used by people with experience or professionals that have been trained to handle them correctly.

It is important and grownups alike to remember that all fireworks should only be handled by adults who understand how to use them properly so that everyone can enjoy fireworks safely.

Are Fireworks Legal in Chicago, Illinois?

Under the Illinois Pyrotechnic Use Act (425 ILCS 35/), it is illegal to use consumer-grade fireworks in the state especially ones that fly into the air or explode. This includes bottle rockets, roman candles, and other aerial fireworks.

Illegal Fireworks in Illinois

Consumer grade fireworks that are illegal in Illinois include but are not limited to:

  • fireworks that fly in the air or explode
  • bottle rockets
  • roman candles
  • aerial fireworks

Licensed Professional Displays

The only exceptions are for licensed professional displays using fireworks that have been approved by the state fire marshal. The Pyrotechnic Use Act does specify certain types of fireworks with “novelty effects” that the act allows to be used unregulated.

Legal Fireworks in Illinois

These legal fireworks include:

  • snake or glow worm pellets;
  • smoke devices;
  • trick noisemakers known as party poppers that shoot colored streamers, confetti poppers, booby traps, snappers, trick matches, cigarette loads, or auto burglar alarms;
  • sparklers;
  • toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns, or other devices in which paper or plastic caps containing twenty-five hundredths grains (16 mg) or less of explosive compound are used, provided they are so constructed that the hand cannot come in contact with the cap when in place for the explosion; and
  • toy pistol paper or plastic caps that contain less than twenty hundredths grains (13 mg) of explosive mixture.

Regulations Governing the Use of Fireworks in Your Area

It’s crucial to note that many cities and counties have laws prohibiting personal fireworks displays so check with your local government before setting off any fireworks of any kind as your city or township may have more restrictive regulations than Illinois.

Fireworks Safety Tips


Accidents and Injuries from Fireworks

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission reported these alarming figures in their 2021 report, Fireworks Injuries and Deaths.

  • There were nine deaths due to fireworks in the United States including six attributed to fireworks misuse.
  • An estimated 11.5k people visited the emergency room to get treatment for fireworks injuries.
  • 74% of all the fireworks injuries in the United States for the year occurred in the one month period between June 18-July 18.
  • 20 to 24 year old young adults were treated in emergency rooms for their fireworks related injuries the most.
  • 1,100 of the injuries treated in the emergency room were related to sparklers.
  • 31% of injuries from fireworks were to the hands and fingers with another 21% of injuries to the head, face, and ears.
  • Burns accounted for about 32% of the injuries treated in the ER.
  • About 31% of fireworks that were tested were found to be noncompliant with prohibited chemicals, an overload of pyrotechnic materials, or fuse violations.

Common Injuries from the Misuse of Fireworks

Common Injuries From The Misuse of Fireworks in Chicago

Unfortunately, fireworks can cause more serious injuries than just severe burns. Common accidents due to fireworks misuse include:

  • Eye injuries
  • Head and facial trauma
  • Loss of fingers or hands
  • Internal organ damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Burns and scars

Take Safety Precautions to Avoid Fireworks Related Injuries

It’s important to remember that many of these injuries could be avoided with proper safety precautions such as opting to wear eye protection, only using regulated fireworks in a designated area away from people and buildings, keeping a bucket of water nearby, and never handling lit fireworks. When in doubt, leave it to the professionals. Don’t risk ruining your holiday because of malfunctioning fireworks or mishandling them.

Safety Tips for Handling Fireworks

This is a good reminder that even the most common and seemingly harmless fireworks are seriously dangerous. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reminds us of the following fireworks safety tips.

Follow these safety tips when using fireworks

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Celebrate Safely and Contact Us If You Need Help

Fireworks are beautiful but they are also extremely dangerous. Keep these tips in mind and enjoy an accident-free holiday with your loved ones. And should you or someone you know become seriously burned or suffer other serious fireworks related injuries due to someone else’s negligence, call us for a free consultation to review the details of your case.

Fourth of July Fireworks Dangers
If you or a loved one are injured by an illegal fireworks show, be sure to discuss your legal options with a Chicago fireworks injury lawyer.

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