Abels & Annes

Chicago injury lawyers issue caution regarding fireworks

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The Chicago personal injury lawyers at the Abels & Annes wish you a safe and happy holiday weekend and we urge you to stay safe around fireworks displays this Fourth of July.

While some types of small fireworks are permitted in Illinois, it depends on the regulations in your village or municipality.

Fireworks are divided into two categories:

• consumer fireworks, which include such items as fountains, repeaters and parachutes.

• pyrotechnic displays, which use professional grade fireworks such as mortars, cake bundles, and ground displays that depict a picture.

It’s important to note that several well-known types of fireworks, such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles, are not allowed in Illinois under the new regulations, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Novelty fireworks, such as snakes, sparklers, and party-poppers, are not regulated by the state, although municipalities have the authority to enact an ordinance prohibiting the sale and use of sparklers on public property.

While legal, sparklers present a serious danger because of the high temperature of the wire during and after its use. Sparklers burn at temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and remain extremely hot long after the sparks have stopped.

Many children are injured each year by sparklers. Children playing with novelty fireworks must be closely supervised by adults to prevent injury.

Visit the OSFM website for information about Illinois fireworks’ regulations.

In 2006, 11 people died and more than 9,000 were injured by fireworks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which offers more information about fireworks and fireworks safety. Fireworks can cause blindness, third-degree burns and permanent scarring and are a source of life-threatening residential and motor vehicle fires.

1194538_fireworks_1.jpgMore than 100 people were injured by fireworks in Illinois last year, according to the Associated Press. The Chicago Fire Department reported 18 fireworks-related fires and four injuries.

Your best bet and safest route to seeing great fireworks this weekend is to go to a fireworks show put on by professionals. Even at a professional show, organizers have an obligation to keep burning debris are other material from falling into the crowd and causing injuries.

In Mount Vernon, the fire department is offering fireworks safety courses leading up to the Fourth of July.

“On fireworks safety, one of the biggest things we try to teach is that there is no safe firework out there,” MVFD Assistant Chief Kevin Sargent told the Register-News.

“Fireworks in the U.S. are regulated and the state of Illinois has decided to allow some fireworks. … We try to teach people what fireworks are legal and illegal and the safety in handling and distance.”

Sargent, who also teaches the classes, said one of the biggest surprises he has noticed many people express during the training is the safety distances.
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“Some fireworks project over 400 feet, and we need to keep spectators away that far so they aren’t injured or hit by debris from falling fireworks,” Sargent said. “… They need to be aware of the weather. Is it windy? The wind will change the direction of fireworks after it has left the shell or tube. Also, everybody thinks since it has rained and rained that a fire can’t start. But it is dry underneath the grass on top, and that can get hit and cause it to burn.”

The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers the following safety tips:

Use fireworks outdoors only.

Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.

Always have water handy. (A hose or bucket).

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Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.

Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.

Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”

Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.

Do not ever use homemade fireworks of illegal explosives: They can kill you! Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.

If you or someone you love is injured by fireworks — at a professional show or otherwise — the Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.