Fireworks Safety & Holiday Injury Prevention Tips
Fireworks, at least certain types, are now legal in the state of New Jersey. If you’re planning on celebrating the Fourth of July or other events this summer with spectacular fireworks displays of your own, knowing the law and prioritizing safety is of the utmost importance.
Fireworks Laws in New Jersey
In 2017, former Governor Chris Christie endorsed a measure making specific types of fireworks legal for purchase in New Jersey. Here are a few quick facts about the permitted use of fireworks:
- What’s legal – Don’t be misled into thinking you’re in the clear to blast off giant mortars or m-class shells from your backyard. New Jersey fireworks laws limit legal fireworks to what are known as “second-tier” fireworks, which include things like sparklers, fountains, and novelties like snakes. Fireworks may not shoot anything above 12 feet in the air, and may not produce explosions (only sparks).
- What’s not – Bottle rockets, roman candles, mortars, and other aerial fireworks are still illegal under New Jersey law. Those who commit violations can be held responsible with a disorderly persons citation (which carries a $500 fine), or other charges. If you want to see these types of fireworks (legally and safely), your best bet is to attend a professional show.
Whatever fireworks you use, ensuring they’re used safely and sensibly is important to both your safety and the safety of those around you, and to any property at risk of fire-related hazards. Here are a few tips for enjoying fireworks:
- Supervision – Even fireworks deemed “safe and sane” pose risks of unintentional injuries. That includes sparklers, snakes, and firecrackers considered “safer” fireworks, all of which can burn at temperatures hot enough to cause serious burn injuries and major fires. Parents should always ensure these and any fireworks are used by children under the close supervision of adults, in accordance to manufacturers’ directions, in safe and controlled conditions outdoors, and in ways which reduce risks of injuries (properly held, never pointed at others, fully extinguished after use, etc.).
- Lighting – Fireworks should only be lit outdoors and away from any nearby fire hazards (i.e. barbeques, gas ranges, propane tanks, and wood structures on patios or homes). They should never be lit in a container, and should never be “re-lit” if they malfunction or fail to work on a first attempt. When lighting any firework, do so at arm’s length and back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
- One at a time – Fireworks can be fun, but too many can be a serious danger. If lighting more than one at a time means your ability to safely supervise their use and any children using them, be sure to light and use only one firework at a time so as to prevent any unanticipated dangers.
- Be prepared – Be prepared for any potential problems by keeping your fireworks in a safe space that can’t be accessed by children not under your watch, having a bucket of water or garden hose nearby to soak and extinguish used fireworks and any “duds,” and having a plan should any unexpected fires or injuries occur.
More Holiday Safety Tips
- Roadway safety & impaired driving – Roadway risks can increase substantially during the summer months and holidays. Be extra vigilant in increased traffic that may have more distracted drivers and out-of-town motorists prone to making sudden moves behind the wheel. Also be sure to plan for a safe ride if you plan on drinking during the holiday season, and watch out for any drunk or impaired drivers who didn’t make the same sensible choice.
- Boating/water safety – If your plans include some time on the water, make sure that children are always supervised, proper equipment and safety gear is kept nearby, and rules are made so as to avoid preventable accidents. For boaters, never operate a boat while under the influence, and make sure you know local rules and laws regarding ski safety and having passengers in the water. For those who choose to hit the beach, make sure you use a buddy system, comply with local laws, stay out of rip currents, and listen to safety personnel and lifeguards.
- Grilling & BBQ safety – Firing up the grill for the Fourth of July is as “America” as it gets. Enjoy your grilling safely by placing barbeques outside and away from any structures or materials that may catch on fire, using long-handled tongs and tools when cooking food, placing oils or spray away from flames, and supervising children nearby.
Though the safest way to enjoy fireworks and any holiday celebration is to entrust the dangerous stuff to professionals, it’s inevitable that some people will choose to enjoy a few things on their own. When they do, they often owe a duty of care to guests and those around them, and must take reasonable steps to ensure their safety. Victims injured by the negligence of party hosts, property owners, or even product manufacturers can potentially hold these at-fault parties liable for preventable harm and losses.
Levinson Axelrod, P.A. serves the entire state of New Jersey in a wide range of accident and injury matters – from workplace accidents and drunk driving collisions to premises and product liability. Contact us if you wish to discuss a potential case.