The Fourth of July is a day commonly spent with family and friends celebrating our nation’s independence. For many Americans, this national holiday is not complete without two key elements: barbecues and fireworks! While these two traditions are heavily ingrained in the American culture, their origins may be unknown to many. According to Reader’s Digest, fireworks have been tied to Independence Day since the very first official independence celebration in Philadelphia. On July 4th, 1777, 13 cannons were set off, representing each of the 13 states of the union, and fireworks glistened in the sky.
The tradition of the backyard BBQ does not span as long, as barbecuing only became prominent in the early 1800’s. Virginian colonists grilled animals over a fire, continuing the practice taken from the West Indies, but it was political leaders who tied grilling to the 4th of July. They held rallies to commemorate the holiday, which attracted a large number of individuals, due to the inclusion of, “massive barbecues featuring whole pigs and oxen.”
Today, nothing says red, white, and blue quite like a fireworks show and hot dogs on the grill. However, a family-friendly backyard BBQ can quickly go from fun to fatal when attention is taken away from the grill. Not only can the open flames harm to kids who get too close, but a fire could erupt, due to leaking propane, and quickly spread. The explosion could cause burns, as well as major property damage. Grill fires sound like a joke, but they are more common than people think.. According to TODAY, there are 7,000 gas grill fires in the US every year! Fireworks also pose a threat if they are not handled with care or if they are misused and can lead to serious firework accident injuries. Children and adults alike have been known to burn themselves trying to light a firework, or have a firework explode in their faces if they don’t back away in time, after lighting one. Since, 4th of July festivities can be just as dangerous as they are fun, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has suggests the ten following safety tips so people can make sure their holiday festivities don’t involve a trip to the emergency room.
4th of July Firework and BBQ Safety Tips
- Be sure fireworks are legal in your area before using or buying them.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities and never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers alone account for one quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.
- If you set off fireworks, keep a bucket of water handy in case of malfunction or fire.
- If fireworks malfunction, don’t relight them! Douse and soak them with water then throw them away.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially one that is glass or metal.
- Use your grill well away from your home and deck railings, and out from under branches or overhangs.
- Open your gas grill before lighting.
- Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below your gas or propane grill so it cannot be ignited.
- Declare a three-foot "kid and pet-free zone" around the grill to keep them safe.
- Avoid loose clothing that can catch fire when cooking on the grill.
In 2016 alone, US hospitals treated approximately 11,100 individuals with firework-related injuries, as reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Of those injured, 69% were treated for burns, the most common injury to the body excluding the eye. If the eyes were impacted by fireworks, the damage consisted of, “contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes.” Adults 20 to 24 had the highest rate of firework-related injuries treated in a hospital, followed by children under the age of 5. These statistics are bleak, but they can serve as a powerful reminder that firework accidents should never be underestimated. While it may be a safer option is to leave the fireworks to the professionals and attend a local show instead, many Americans will celebrate this Independence Day in their backyards. For a safe and festive 4th of July, use caution when setting off fireworks, and you won’t have to share your brisket with any firemen who come to the rescue!
Firework shows are spectacular, and an exciting part of Fourth of July celebrations. Even if they are handled by professionals, viewers, and their vehicles must be located far enough away from the fallout zone to avoid firework-related injuries. Designated parking and viewing areas, when available, may provide a safe distance from flying debris. But with the heavy flow of traffic, they may be fully occupied. If a safe viewing area is not an option, try to find a spot as far from where the show will take place as possible, and be on alert of other drivers also trying to find a place to park. If you or someone you know has been injured due to another person’s negligence, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC for a free consultation today at 844.4MI.FIRM. Our Michigan accident attorneys are ready to help!