LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Independence Day weekend is here and the fireworks are starting to come out.
City firework displays are planned across the Bluegrass, but many Kentuckians will also incorporate backyard fireworks into their celebrations.
But it’s all fun and games until something goes wrong.
Hughes & Coleman Injury Lawyers recently reached a settlement for a Louisville woman who was blinded during a private Fourth of July celebration in 2020.
Litigation attorney Joe Griffith said his client was at a social gathering at an acquaintance’s property when a person shot a bottle rocket in her direction. The firework exploded near her face and left her with permanent damage in one of her eyes.
“You never think it’s going to be you when the day starts out, but it can and the injuries can be just devastating because fireworks are dangerous,” Griffith said.
Griffith explained homeowners who allow fireworks on their property can be held legally liable if a person is hurt or there is property damage.
“When you are a social guest on someone’s property, as the property owner you have certain duties to your guests. One is to protect them from hazardous activity. Fireworks, because they’re very dangerous, are deemed by the law to be a hazardous activity,” Griffith said.
According to the National Safety Council, fireworks start an average of 18,000 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 17,000 other fires.
In 2020, 18 people died and an estimate of 15,600 ended up in the emergency room due to fireworks accidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Battalion Chief Jordan Saas with the Lexington Fire Department said their agency deals with these situations every Fourth of July.
“We’re already seeing fireworks injuries. I know there was at least one reported last week where a person was transported to the hospital with pretty significant injuries,” Saas said. “The best way people can avoid personal injury with fireworks is to leave it to the professionals.”
The only fireworks allowed to be sold or used in Fayette County are ground and hand-held sparkling devices, like sparklers, ground spinners, and fountains.
The National Safety Council has the following safety tips if you plan to use fireworks:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
- Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
- Never light them indoors
- Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
- Never ignite devices in a container
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
- Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire
- Never use illegal fireworks