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The Pyro Period


On July 4th weekend, the sound of a firework going off is hardly unusual. But when the sound occurs on Sunday morning, and is followed by screams and then by the shrill wails of police and ambulance sirens, people take note. That was the chaos and cacophony that enveloped New York City's Central Park on July 3, 2016, when 18 year old Connor Golden stepped on what police believe was a discarded homemade firework device, accidentally detonating it. The explosion cost Golden his foot, and most likely the lower part of his leg to below his knee; he currently awaits another surgery.


Not quite as catchy a title as March Madness, the Pyro Period nonetheless also refers to a month of time in which craziness takes hold. The roughly four weeks surrounding July 4th--June 22 through July 22--were used by the Consumer Protection and Safety Commission (CPSC) to study the number and type of injuries caused by, as well as people most likely to be injured by, fireworks. The CPSC estimates that 60% of all firework injuries occur in the Pyro Period. More than half of these injuries involve burns to the head, face and hands. Tragically, approximately 1,000 of these injuries are due to sparklers and bottle rockets--types of fireworks that are mistakenly thought safe for children. Not surprisingly, the majority of people injured are aged 20 and younger. The CPSC data shows 8,700 people being treated in Emergency Departments for firework-related injuries in 2012.

A University of Louisville research team found that the number of serious injuries requiring hospitalization from firework-related accidents increased from 28.9% of cases in 2006 to 50% of cases in 2012. During this same time period, laws governing fireworks sales were relaxed in most states. While the Louisville study did not prove a direct causal link between the relaxation in the regulatory environment surrounding fireworks and the increase in severe injuries from them, the research team urged lawmakers to examine the association of the two trends.


In addition to its annual report on accidents and injuries from fireworks, the CPSC also offers safety tips on the use of all kinds of fireworks, from Roman candles, to bottle rockets to sparklers to professional displays. The following are the top five suggestions for keeping fireworks safe:

Make sure the fireworks that you purchase are legal; using illegal fireworks can not only get you in trouble with the law, but it can get you hurt because they tend to not be as safe;

Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers; always have adult supervision when older children are around or igniting fireworks;

Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse, and back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks;

Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in a metal or glass container; light them one at a time and then move back quickly;

Never try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks; soak them with water and then throw them away. This is perhaps the safety step that was not followed with respect to the firework in Central Park mentioned above. Police investigating the horrible accident believe that the firework--possibly a homemade device--malfunctioned and did not detonate when it was supposed to, and was left in the park mistakenly believed to be harmless. When Golden jumped off the rock he and his friends had climbed, he landed on the firework, and the force of his landing detonated it.


If you or someone you love has been injured by fireworks, contact Dave Thomas of The Thomas Law Firm for a free evaluation of your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
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