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Fireworks DisplayThe Fourth of July and spectacular fireworks displays go hand-in-hand. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

Fireworks are beautiful, but they're also dangerous.

In 2013, in the United States alone, fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and 14,000 outside and other fires, according to the Quincy, Massachusetts-based National Fire Protection Association. These fires resulted in an estimated $21 million in direct property damage.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 230 people on average go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. In 2013, there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers who sustained injuries related to fireworks. Sixty-five percent, or 7,400, of the injuries in 2013, occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4, 2013, according to CPSC's latest data.

Homeowners Coverage


Will your home insurance cover fireworks injuries and damage? The answer is complicated, according to Insurance.com. Most home insurance policies provide several different types of protection — each with varying payout limits. Also, there are different types of accidents.

If you're shooting off illegal fireworks and set fire to your house, you may not be covered. Most policies exclude damage resulting from illegal acts or when you purposely caused injury or damage.

If fireworks set fire to leaves in your gutter, a section of your home insurance policy for fire incidents could cover the damage. Fireworks that malfunction and injure a friend on your property could be covered under a section for medical payments to others. Likewise, liability payments could cover your fireworks accidentally shooting into your neighbor's house and breaking a window.

But if you get into a bottle-rocket war and injure someone, you may not be covered because the incident was intentional.

Worldwide Catastrophes


Each year, fireworks cause extensive property damage and injuries around the world. From China to Mexico, images on the following pages tell the stories of the aftermath following fireworks accidents. 

Here are 15 fireworks safety tips to help prevent injuries and protect property from organizations including the American Pyrotechnics Association, National Council on Fireworks Safety, National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
  1. Use Fireworks Outdoors Only

  2. Point Fireworks Away From Homes and Buildings

    Keep fireworks away from brush, leaves and flammable substances. Use launching fireworks in open areas only to ensure they don't land on top of buildings and houses — especially those with natural (cedar) type shingles.

    Don't light fireworks under trees or near vehicles or windows.

  3. Don't Point Fireworks at People

    Also, maintain a safe distance when watching fireworks shows.

  4. Store Fireworks Properly

    Storing fireworks can be tricky — if stored improperly, they could lose their charge, weaken, or even prematurely ignite.
    • Store fireworks in a cool, dry, dark location.
    • Keep stored fireworks away from potential heat sources such as light bulbs, furnaces, engines and other combustible materials.
    • Don't store fireworks in bulk in case they explode before you want them to.
    • Store fireworks out of reach of children and pets.
  5. Never Use Homemade Fireworks

    Buy fireworks only from a licensed store or stand — not from the seller's home or car. Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.

    Read all instructions before igniting. Never alter or combine fireworks in any way, including trimming fuses or cutting away protective packaging.

  6. Keep a Bucket of Water or a Garden Hose Handy in Case of Fire

    Also, have a first aid kit ready and waiting.

  7. Wear Safety Glasses When Shooting Fireworks

    Safety glasses will protect your eyes from errant sparks when lighting fireworks and from flying debris if there is a quicker-than-expected explosion.

  8. Don't Use Fireworks While Consuming Alchoholic Beverages or Drugs

    Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save alchohol for after the show.

  9. Don't Ignite Fireworks in a Container

    Also, never shoot fireworks into metal or glass containers. And never carry fireworks in your pocket.

  10. Never Relight a "Dud" Firework

    Wait 20 minutes and then soak any 'dud' fireworks in a bucket of water.

  11. Carefully Dispose of Spent Fireworks


    Dispose of spent fireworks by soaking them in a bucket of water and placing in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials.

  12. Light One Firework at a Time

    Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. After lighting a firework, quickly move away.

    Keep spectators a safe distance away from the lighting area — at least 20 feet.

  13. Don't Light Fireworks in Windy Conditions

    Wind can affect how the sparks fly or may move the charge unexpectedly.

  14. Obey the Law

    Don't use fireworks that are illegal in your city, county or state. In Denver, Colorado, for example, setting off fireworks — of any kind — is illegal, and the same goes for most Colorado Front Range cities.

    "If you have to light it or ignite it, it's illegal," said Christine M. Downs, public information officer for the Denver Police Department, according to The Denver Post. That includes sparklers, bottle rockets, Roman candles and virtually anything loud or cool-looking.

  15. Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

    The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals.
*****

The week before Independence Day is a great time to review your home insurance coverage. Call Miller Insurance Agency at (409) 899-4531 to get started.

(Article Courtesy: Jayleen R. Heft via Property & Casualty 360)
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