by Hollie McAfee

It seems that you can’t really celebrate the 4th of July without fireworks.  I am lucky enough to live in the Houlton community, which goes all-out on Independence Day, with arguably the best celebration in the State of Maine.  I’ve enjoyed the Houlton Agricultural Fair and fireworks at Community Park since I was a little girl.  A handful of times, due to budget constraints or the exhaustion caused by raising children, my husband and I decided to stay home and watch the fireworks from the back yard, since we have a pretty good view.  Each time, the evening ended with a promise to go back to the park the following year, because it’s just not the same at home.

Since the state made consumer fireworks legal last year, we’ve also enjoyed some impromptu fireworks shows by our neighbors.  We launched a few of our own on New Years’ Eve, and recently attended a party with fireworks at the lake.  The last event was a little bit scary.  One of the fireworks flipped over after it was lit, and shot directly into our 13 year old son’s leg.  He suffered a minor burn on his shin, and we all were grateful that there was not a more serious injury.  I had my typical thoughts after such an accident, “It’s a successful party when my kid is the only one who gets hurt” and “This would make a good insurance blog.”

The National Fire Protection Association reports the following statistics from 2011:

  • Fireworks caused 17,800 reported fires in 2011, including 1,200 structure fires, 400 vehicle fires and 16,300 outside or other fires.
  • These fires caused 8 reported deaths, 40 injuries and $32 million in damages.
  • In 2011, fireworks injuries resulted in 9,600 emergency room visits.
  • There are more fires reported on Independence Day than any other day of the year, and two in five of these fires are caused by fireworks, more than any other single cause.

MMG Insurance, one of the insurance companies that we represent, released some helpful safety tips in its summer newsletter.

  • Find out your local ordinances regarding fireworks before you buy them and set them off.
  • Carefully read instructions.
  • Point fireworks away from structures, trees and people.  
  • Never re-light a “dud.”  Wait 20 minutes and then soak in a bucket of water.

Celebrating Independence Day should never result in tragedy.  Take care, and have fun!