Preventing Burns and Injuries During Fourth of July

Fourth of July is a holiday filled with patriotism and fun, but the prevalence of fireworks and other incendiary devices can make it dangerous. Here, the legal experts at AFSL detail ways to keep you and your family safe this coming Fourth of July.

Use of Fireworks in Maryland

In Maryland, the sale and use of non-aerial and non-explosive fireworks, also known as “safe and sane” fireworks, by the general public is allowed, except in Harford and Howard Counties, as well as Baltimore City. Sparklers that do not contain chlorates or perchlorates, such as “gold label” or “champagne party poppers,” are allowed in legal counties, as well as ground-based sparklers that are not aerial or explosive, paper-wrapped snappers with less than .03 grains of explosive composition, ash-producing pellets (“snakes”), and toy pistols or guns that use paper caps as long as a hand cannot touch the cap when it is in place for use.

Illegal fireworks include:

  • Firecrackers
  • Cherry Bombs
  • Black Cats
  • M-80s
  • Crackling balls
  • Smoke bombs
  • Roman candles and bottle rockets
  • Sky rockets
  • Helicopter-type rockets
  • Spinning Wheels
  • Moving Tanks or other vehicles
  • Any firework shot from a mortar tube

Dangers of Fireworks

Even something as seemingly innocuous as the tip of a sparkler can burn higher than 1,200°F. Larger and more explosive devices can cause irreparable injury or damage when misused. That being said, even the proper use of fireworks can lead to accidents, including physical burns, chemical burns, blindness, abrasions, loss of fingers, hands, or other limbs and even death. In 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 11,900 people went to the emergency room with firework-related injuries, and 11 people died.

General Safety

The safest place to view fireworks is at a public display performed by professionals. If you do not plan on going to watch fireworks this holiday, please keep in mind that even “safe and sane” fireworks can be dangerous if used improperly. Practicing caution when using fireworks is critical for family health and safety. Never allow children to handle fireworks—including sparklers—or approach them without supervision. Fireworks should always be fired outdoors and upward, into the air, and never at people, animals or potentially flammable materials.

In case of fire, keep a hose and bucket of water nearby to quickly extinguish any flaming or smoldering material. Always wear safety glasses, and even gloves when handling larger incendiary devices. If a firework does not go off as intended, do not immediately approach it. Wait at least 20 minutes—if it has still not gone off, thoroughly soak the device in a bucket of water and dispose of it. Paper snappers, sparklers and other small devices should not be carried in pockets, and should not be shot or lit into glass or metal containers, as they could explode and the fragments could cause serious injuries. Never purchase or make homemade fireworks—the chemical compounds necessary to create fireworks are dangerous, toxic and difficult to control.

Unfortunately, many people suffer burn injuries every Fourth of July, sometimes from no fault of their own. By following these guidelines, and ensuring that others are doing the same, you can help to ensure that your Fourth of July celebrations are safe, fun and injury free for the whole family.  If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury at the hands of another’s negligence, you may be entitled to seek legal redress. Contact the law office of AFSL for more information, or for a consultation with one of our experienced and skilled attorneys.