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A 45-year-old Washington man was killed lighting holiday fireworks. How to celebrate safely.

A Washington man was found unresponsive after the fireworks he was lighting accidentally hit him in the head, knocking him unconscious, according to reporting from local news outlets. 

The incident happened around 2:30 a.m. on July 5 as the man lit mortar-style fireworks, a kind of firework legal in Washington that explodes into stars once the fuse has been lit. Emergency responders pronounced the man dead at the scene. In Florida, it is illegal to use fireworks that contain shells, mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, firecrackers, and rockets.

Firework Injuries & Deaths in the United States

In a Consumer Product Safety Commission report with data from 2022, there were about 10,200 firework-related injuries and 11 fatalities, all males ranging in age from 11 to 43 years old. The majority of the total firework-related incidents involved mortar-style fireworks, according to the data. Children 15 years and younger accounted for approximately 28% of these overall incidents.

In 2023, there were approximately 9,700 injuries and eight deaths. Of the eight fatalities, five were due to firework misuse, two were device malfunctions and one was due to “unknown circumstances,” according to the CPSC report. The latest available data shows that from 2008 to 2023, there has been an overall increase in firework-related injuries. Approximately 18% of the selected products used and tested for the CPSC analysis contained “non-compliant components,” meaning that they had prohibited chemicals, fuse violations, and or pyrotechnic materials overload, meaning that they are intended to produce loud noises which is a violation of the federal regulatory standard. 

Leesfield & Partners 

In its 48-year history serving clients in Orlando, Key West, and South Florida, Leesfield & Partners has seen every instance of negligence imaginable at the hands of individuals and corporations. Leesfield & Partners is recognized nationally for its product liability litigation involving items such as children’s toys, motor vehicles, medical products, and other consumer products. One case handled by the firm included an item of furniture that tipped over, killing a 2-year-old in Central Florida. The item’s manufacturer did not properly warn consumers about securing the item to the wall, resulting in the death of the child. A $17.5 million settlement was secured by attorneys with the firm. With any product on the market, it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure the product they are creating is safe for consumers. As was the case for two out of the eight deaths in 2023 in which the fireworks were found to have malfunctioned, having catastrophic consequences.  

Operating out of Miami-Dade County, an area that had the highest rate of boat crashes in 2021, Leesfield & Partners attorneys have seen how quickly a day of celebration can take a turn for the worst. It is typical for boaters to head out to the water to get a clear view of the fireworks on nights like New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Additionally, on alcohol-fueled holidays such as these, it is also typical for boaters to race back to shore with limited visibility at night, creating a dangerous situation with heightened risk. 

One example of this includes the death of a 20-year-old woman on a speed boat that crashed into a concrete dock. The woman, and other passengers, were launched from the speeding boat. The operator of the watercraft had been drinking. A seven-figure settlement was secured by attorneys for the family of the woman in that case. 

Firework Safety Tips

Although the Fourth of July is over and most Americans won’t think again of pyrotechnics until New Year’s Eve, everyone knows one neighbor who will be lighting any leftover fireworks for at least a week. Fireworks present a clear risk, especially when not used as directed or by an inexperienced individual. Below are some firework safety tips to keep you and your family safe. 

  • Never allow children to play with or light fireworks as they can easily be burned. 
  • Do not let children play with sparklers, as the hand-held fireworks can burn as hot as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the CPSC.
  • Never light off fireworks while impaired by substances such as alcohol or drugs. 
  • Do not purchase illegal fireworks, know the regulations for your area, and only purchase fireworks labeled for consumer use. 
  • Fireworks should be lit individually. 
  • Do not stand near a lit firework. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water handy in case of an accidental fire. 
  • Only use fireworks outdoors and away from fry grass and trees to avoid a fire. 
  • Fireworks should be soaked in water before they are thrown out to avoid accidental ignition or malfunction. 
  • Never try to relight a firework. 
  • Do not point or aim fireworks at another person. 
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