Use of Fireworks May Compromise Your Homeowners Coverage

According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than twice the average number of fires are reported on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year. Fireworks are at fault for two out of every five of those holiday fires.

Here is something most homeowners do not know: if fireworks are illegal in the area where they live and they still choose to celebrate with fireworks, any resulting fire damage may not be covered by their homeowners insurance. To preserve coverage under your Alabama, Florida or South Carolina homeowners insurance policy, it is important that your family observes any fireworks restrictions in your area. Firework laws are generally stricter in areas at higher risk for fire damage due to weather and other environmental factors.

In addition to setting fires, fireworks can cause serious injuries. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, children account for 43% of the firework injuries that occur near the 4th of July1. Hands, fingers and eyes are the most commonly injured parts of the body. Most firework-related injuries are caused by sparklers and small firecrackers. Users generally consider these smaller fireworks harmless and fail to take the same level of precaution as they do when using larger display fireworks. Despite being marketed as “fun for all ages,” sparklers burn at higher than 1200˚ Fahrenheit, hot enough to cause third-degree burns.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public event directed by trained professionals. Check your community event listings for public firework displays in your area.
However, if fireworks are legal in your area and you decide to provide your own entertainment this 4th of July, the following firework safety tips can help to prevent fire damage and injury:

  • Buy fireworks only from a licensed store or stand. Never buy fireworks from a seller’s home or car.
  • Read and follow all the directions on the fireworks’ packaging.
  • Consider a child’s age before allowing them to directly participate. Supervise children when using fireworks, even sparklers or other fireworks usually considered child-friendly. Discuss firework safety with children, emphasizing that fireworks should never be used carelessly, without an adult or indoors.
  • Keep water and fire extinguishers nearby. Even when used as directed, fireworks can be unpredictable.
  • Light fireworks outdoors, in an area free of flammable materials (dry leaves or grass, garbage, debris or building materials). Even small fireworks like sparklers or cherry bombs should never be used indoors, including garages where flammable materials are frequently stored.
  • Never point fireworks at others. Consider the amount of space and number of participants in the vicinity before you begin the celebration.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix well. Although drinking and celebrating tend to go hand-in-hand, reserve the alcoholic beverages for after the display to help ensure all participants are sober and attentive.
  • If a firework does not go off, never try to relight it. Instead, submerge it in water.
  • Soak used fireworks in water before disposing of them in an outdoor garbage can. This will ensure that they are completely extinguished and prevent an unintentional fire.
  • Do not store fireworks in bulk. If one ignites, it will start the others. Store fireworks away from children and sources of ignition. If possible, buy fireworks close to the intended time of use in order to prevent lengthy storage.

When planning your 4th of July celebration or any other event involving fireworks, make the safety of family and guests your primary focus. Research your local laws and consider attending a professional display instead of lighting up on your own.

References

(1) http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/v5i4.pdf

Please remember that the comments contained in this blog are general in nature and that coverage under any specific policy of insurance will depend upon the terms and conditions of such policy.