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  • Tom Manges


Since I last posted about fireworks I have represented people who have lost an eye at Fourth of July parties each of the last two years, It is vital to remind everyone of the rules. In each of my cases, the victim was a spectator, and arguably not doing anything wrong.

If you use fireworks incorrectly, and someone is hurt, you are “negligent”. In that case, the victim can make a claim against you for money (medical bills, wage loss, pain, etc.). Usually your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will cover you for negligent acts, even if you are not on your own property. If you throw a party, and you allow fireworks to be used by a guest, and someone is hurt, a claim could be made against you even if you didn’t buy the fireworks or set them off.

You don’t want your friends or family to be hurt by fireworks. Please make sure you and your guests follow the basic safety rules:

  1. Make sure there is enough distance between the launch area and any spectators. Industry standards say a minimum clear radius of 30 feet for fountains and other ground-based items and 100 yards for any aerial based firework is recommended.

  2. Make sure the fireworks are launched away from trees and houses.

  3. Alcohol impairs judgment. A sober adult should be in charge.

  4. Never light more than one firework at a time. Misfires can go into the crowd.

  5. The people lighting the fireworks should use eye protection.

  6. Fireworks should be launched/lit from a flat, stable, level surface;

  7. Have a bucket of water handy. Put spent fireworks and duds into the bucket.

  8. Aerials should be launched only from suitable devices. Bottles, ironically, should not be used since they tend to tip over. Never launch bottle rockets by jamming the stick into grass or soil, for the same reason.

  9. Read and follow the directions on the labels.

  10. Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.

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