I have this friend- let’s call her Sally. Sally had a huge 4th of July party at her house years and years ago- it was awesome. There was a whole pig roast, there was a big pool with water games, there was a slip and slide, tons of food and beer, and there were fireworks. Lots of fireworks. Here are a few quick stats on fireworks:
- There are on average 230 fireworks-related injuries on July 4*
- About 9,300 serious injuries were reported in hospital emergency rooms throughout the United States last year**
- There were an estimated 20,000 fires started by fireworks last year**
If you’re planning to host a Fourth of July party that involves dazzling your friends and neighbors with fireworks, do a bit of research. First of all, make certain you are obeying local laws. Fireworks are not legal in every state. And yes my friends, sparklers ARE fireworks in many states. Secondly, be aware what your home insurance policy covers in the event of a fireworks-related accident. Finally, be sure to follow fireworks safety guidelines.
For example, if you accidentally injure your neighbor while setting off your fireworks, your home insurance policy should pay for medical expenses. However, this does not apply if you caused the accident intentionally. But coverage limits for medical expenses are usually fairly low- depending on the policy, they might be as low as $1,000 to $5,000. This coverage also typically kicks in if your injured neighbor or friend doesn’t have health insurance and seeks to recover his/her medical costs from you.
If your neighbor sues you to recover medical costs, or if you damaged his house, this is when an important part of your home insurance policy kicks in: Your insurance company will generally pay for your legal defense. However, if you burn yourself setting off fireworks, you won’t be covered by your home insurance (another reason to carefully follow fireworks safety guidelines).
Burning down the house
What happens if your house burns down as a result of fireworks? Again, as long as it wasn’t intentional, you’re covered for any property damage you may have caused.
However, if possessing or setting off fireworks is illegal in your state, your insurance company may not cover the cost of any damage or injury. Insurance doesn’t cover damage resulting from illegal acts.
If you are manufacturing fireworks in your home and there’s an accident that injures someone, or causes property damage, you’re out of luck. Just stop doing it- stop now.
Fireworks safety tips
If you plan your own pyrotechnics display, here are a few safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety, American Pyrotechnics and the Insurance Information Institute.
- Obey the law. Don’t use fireworks that are illegal in your state.
- Keep your pets away from fireworks. Pets have sensitive hearing and the noise can hurt them.
- Keep fireworks away from children. Every year children lose fingers in fireworks accidents, and even sparklers burn at up to 2,000 degrees, making them extremely dangerous for children.
- Safety first. Be sure other adults and children are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never throw or point fireworks at others.
- Always read and follow the directions for fireworks carefully.
- Use fireworks outdoors only.
- Use a flat, hard surface like a driveway. Also avoid lighting fireworks on grass or in containers.
- Use an open area. An open area will present far fewer fire hazards. Keep children at least 30 feet away from where you are lighting the fireworks. Explain to children that fireworks are not toys and can cause the loss of fingers or hands.
- Take it slow. Light only one at a time.
- Wear eye protection. Don’t put any body part near a lit firework.
- Don’t use malfunctioning items. Never attempt to relight a “dud.”
- Have water close by. Have a fire extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water handy for emergencies. Drop used fireworks into a bucket of water.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”
**2016 report from the National Council on Firework Safety