Fireworks explode behind a U.S. flag during a Fourth of July celebration at State Fair Meadowlands, July 4, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Photo: Julio Cortez/AP Photo)
The Fourth of July and spectacular fireworks displays go hand-in-hand. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.
Fireworks are beautiful, but they’re also dangerous.
In 2013, in the United States alone, fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and 14,000 outside and other fires, according to the Quincy, Massachusetts-based National Fire Protection Association. These fires resulted in an estimated $21 million in direct property damage.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 230 people on average go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. In 2013, there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers who sustained injuries related to fireworks. Sixty-five percent, or 7,400, of the injuries in 2013, occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4, 2013, according to CPSC‘s latest data.
Will your home insurance cover fireworks injuries and damage? The answer is complicated, according to Insurance.com. Most home insurance policies provide several different types of protection —each with varying payout limits. Also, there are different types of accidents.
If you’re shooting off illegal fireworks and set fire to your house, you may not be covered. Most policies exclude damage resulting from illegal acts or when you purposely caused injury or damage.
If fireworks set fire to leaves in your gutter, a section of your home insurance policy for fire incidents could cover the damage. Fireworks that malfunction and injure a friend on your property could be covered under a section for medical payments to others. Likewise, liability payments could cover your fireworks accidentally shooting into your neighbor’s house and breaking a window.
But if you get into a bottle-rocket war and injure someone, you may not be covered because the incident was intentional.
Each year, fireworks cause extensive property damage and injuries around the world. From China to Mexico, images on the following pages tell the stories of the aftermath following fireworks accidents.
Here are 15 fireworks safety tips to help prevent injuries and protect property from organizations including the American Pyrotechnics Association, National Council on Fireworks Safety, National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:
People check out the damaged structures after a massive fire broke out during a fireworks display at the Puttingal temple complex in Paravoor village, Kollam district, southern Kerala state, India, April 11, 2016. Medical teams tended to hundreds of people injured in a massive fire that killed more than a hundred, while authorities searched for those responsible for illegally putting on the fireworks display that caused the weekend blaze. (Photo: Aijaz Rahi/AP Photo)
1. Use fireworks outdoors only
All fireworks burn, and can quickly start a house or structure fire.