Each summer, in the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July, nightly news reports will inevitably show enthusiastic firecracker fans accidentally blowing off fingers and toes because they take it upon themselves to entertain family and friends with fireworks. Accompanying the reports are usually statistics of emergency room visits, severe burns and even deaths.

The State of New York, recently legalized the sale of “small fireworks or sparkling devices” in some of the counties north of New York City in the weeks leading up to July 4th.  (Fireworks are still illegal in New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut).  Time will tell if this new legislation will lead to a huge spike in the statistics.  I have included a list of safety tips, below, so that you do not become an “emergency room” patient.

One of the statistics that is almost never reported on the news is rather amazing. Independence Day is typically the busiest day of the year for fires, and approximately 20,000 fire-related emergency calls annually are blamed on fireworks.

This is where the insurance aspect is important. Most people do not consider the insurance implications when getting ready to launch that bottle rocket.

At holiday B-B-Qs, people have inquired of me. 

  • If a pyrotechnic lands on my roof, gutter, pile of leaves, etc. and my house catches on fire, am I covered under my homeowners insurance policy?”
  • Honestly, there is no easy answer to that question; it depends on the circumstance of the fire.  Are fireworks illegal in your state? Insurance doesn’t cover damage from illegal acts.
  • If fireworks are legal and your neighbor’s Roman Candle lands in your gutter and causes a fire, you should be covered.
  • If you accidentally injure your neighbor while launching a rocket, your homeowner’s insurance policy should pay for medical expenses depending on the policy and the deductible.

As the experts always warn, fireworks and pyrotechnics are really best left up to the professionals. But if you plan on treating the neighborhood to a display, you may want to reach out to your insurance agency just to make sure if something occurs, that proper coverage is in place.

Have a safe and happy, Fourth of July!

SAFETY TIPS For Fireworks/Sparkling Devices:

  1. Always follow the directions located on the packaging
  2. All sparklers are for outdoor use only, never use indoors
  3. Always wear eye protection when using sparklers
  4.  Never light more than one sparkler at a time
  5.  Never point a sparkler tube towards anyone or any part of your body
  6.  Keep sparklers and novelty devices in a safe secure location when not in use
  7.  Never use sparklers when under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  8.  Always keep an approved fire extinguisher nearby during a display
  9. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  10.  Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying our using them.
  11. Light fireworks one at a time, and then move back quickly.
  12. Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks.
  13. Douse malfunctioning and spent devices with water before discarding to prevent a fire
  14. Purchase sparklers and novelty devices from NY State registered retailers

FACTS:

  1. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 F
  2. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy or use sparklers in NY State
  3. In 2013 there were 8 deaths and 11,400 reported injuries in the United States related to fireworks. Sparklers accounted for 31% of these injuries. Many of these injuries were to people under the age of 18.
  4. Sparklers and certain novelty devices are the only consumer fireworks that are legal in certain parts of NY State. Learn more at: www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/news/sparklingdevices.cfm
  5.  All consumer fireworks including sparklers, remain illegal in the City of New York