Mich. Agents Offer Fireworks Safety Tips

June 29, 2006

The Michigan Association of Insurance Agents is reminding everyone that extreme caution is needed over the 4th of July weekend with holiday fireworks. Almost 13,000 people were injured from fireworks in the U.S., with 8,500 people treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to fireworks.

About 5,000 of those injuries occurred during a one-week period surrounding the Fourth of July, with children age 14-years and under accounting for almost half of all injuries. Children 14-years of age and younger sustained 50 percent of the reported injuries in the U.S. Only 6 percent of the fireworks injuries occurred in the 45-year and older age group.

According to a recent Consumer Product Safety Commission study, almost 60 percent of the fireworks-related injuries were burns, and 82 percent of the burns involved the hands, eyes, and face. Over 50 percent of the victims were under 15-years of age, and about 75 percent of them were males. The Safety Commission also found that firecrackers, rockets and sparklers caused 72 percent of emergency room-treated injuries. Nearly 40 percent of all injuries occur to bystanders of fireworks displays.

“Fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a painful memory. Fireworks continue to be a serious public safety hazard for young children and innocent bystanders,” said Gary Mitchell, spokesman for the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents. “Children should not be permitted to play with fireworks under any circumstances. Fireworks should be left to the professionals. We urge people not to use illegal fireworks, but instead attend the many legal fireworks displays that are held at various locations.”

Firework-related injuries are estimated to cost approximately $100 million a year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks result in more than $41 million in direct property damage each year.

While many homeowners assume they are covered for any type of accident that occurs around their home, coverage for a fireworks accident depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. Many insurance companies will not pay for fireworks-related claim if you have a state, county or municipality that outlaws fireworks; prohibits the type of rockets used in the incident; or your local law ordinance requires a permit and you do not have one. As a rule, insurance companies will not pay for damage if you have violated the law or if circumstances could not be deemed accidental.

But if fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:

• Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
• Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
• Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned.
• Keep all fireworks away from dry grassy areas.
• Do not smoke when handling fireworks of any kind.

Source: Michigan Association of Insurance Agents, Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Fire Protection Association

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