Summer fireworks events are a lot of fun but can be dangerous. The potential for injury is high, and organizations like your Post can face liability if a member, guest or volunteer is injured, or if property is damaged. Before you decide to include fireworks at your next event, make sure you’re prepared to have a safe, properly permitted and insured event.
What You Should Know About Fireworks Events
Fireworks events are a common sight every summer. Fourth of July celebrations, picnics, festivals, weddings and other outdoor events can all feature fireworks displays or shows. Some organizations also host fireworks sales as a fundraising activity. Many of these events go off successfully and a happy crowd goes home without injuries or damages.
However, fireworks events do present a higher risk than other events you may host. Before you host, it’s important to take these facts from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission into account:
- Emergency departments report more than 10,000 visits a year from fireworks injuries.
- Children under 15 years of age are the most likely to be injured by fireworks.
- Burns represent more than half of all fireworks injuries, but other injuries are possible.
- Hand and finger injuries from fireworks are common and can be serious.
- Serious eye, head and face injuries from fireworks are also possible.
- Sparklers and firecrackers are responsible for 19% and 20% of injuries, respectively.
- Fireworks burn very hot—including handheld sparklers which reach 2,000ºF.
- Fireworks sparks and falling debris can cause fires and serious property damage.
- Trip and fall injuries are also possible for spectators trying to get away from fireworks.
- Serious injury or death from fireworks could result in civil claims and criminal charges.
- Legal problems could also arise due to banned fireworks, missing permits or safety violations.
A lot can go wrong when fireworks are involved, so it’s important to stay safe.
How to Stay Safe with Fireworks
When buying your fireworks, only buy legal fireworks from licensed distributors. Some popular fireworks you may have grown up with, like cherry bombs and M-80s are now banned. Certain other fireworks are banned in some areas, and a few areas ban all private fireworks. Check your state’s laws here. Local cities and counties may have restrictions too. To host a fireworks sale fundraiser, check your local laws and obtain all the proper permits and follow your local safety practices.
With ground fireworks, remember even small fireworks can cause serious injury if misused. Keep small children away and have a responsible adult set them off in a clear, flat outdoor area. Stay clear of combustible materials and keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby. Only set off fireworks when there are no fire watches or warnings in effect in your area. Check for fire forecasts here.
For big fireworks displays and shows, leave these to the professionals and hire only a licensed and insured pyrotechnician. Obtain any necessary permits and special insurance coverage and contact your fire department to plan for any special safety requirements. Develop a safety plan for spectators to watch at a safe distance free of projectiles and falling debris. Have a plan for emergency evacuation and injury treatment and keep fire extinguishers and first aid on hand.
When disposing of spent and unused fireworks, treat them as if they are still live. Keep them away from flames and sparks, wet them down thoroughly and dispose of them in a metal trashcan free of other materials.
Your Checklist for a Safe Fireworks Event
Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you are ready to have a fireworks event:
- Fireworks are legal to buy, sell or use in your area. Check your state’s laws here.
- Fire weather watches or warnings aren’t active in your area. Check for forecasts here.
- Clear, flat, open areas a safe distance from spectators are available for your fireworks display.
- Spectators will not be in danger from falling debris and projectiles.
- Plans and routes for safe evacuation of the area are available, if needed.
- Fire extinguishers, water and first aid kits are readily available, if needed.
- Post personnel have the time and supplies to safely dispose of the fireworks.
- Aerial fireworks displays will only be managed by a licensed and insured professional.
- Ground fireworks displays will only be set off safely by responsible sober adults.
- Fireworks sales have the necessary permits, safety practices and supervision.
- Firework events are insured with a separate, special event insurance policy.
What to Know About Fireworks and Insurance
Fireworks carry a high risk of injury and property damage, so it’s important your Post has insurance just in case. Even with all the proper safety precautions, there’s still a risk something could go wrong, and an accident, injury or death could be devastating for your organization.
It’s important to note that most standard insurance policies exclude coverage for fireworks displays, shows and sales. However, with a Special Event policy from Lockton Affinity your Post is covered to host an event with fireworks.
Before your next event goes off with a bang, contact us to secure a separate, Special Event policy to safely cover your fireworks events.