Fireworks Safety: Don’t let home celebrations this Fourth of July turn to tragedy (or a fine)

July 1, 2020 | 6:00 am


As COVID-19 continues to spread locally and statewide regulations block public gatherings, officials are putting a halt to large fireworks shows this Fourth of July, leading many to celebrate at home.

And while lighting fireworks in your own yard might seem festive and fun, it’s important to celebrate our nation’s Independence safely, so your holiday doesn’t turn into tragedy.

In fact, about 11,000 people are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries each year. And in the month surrounding July 4, our nation sees about 200 fireworks injuries per day, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Serious burns, eye injuries, and even death can occur. Injuries to people aside, fireworks start nearly 20,000 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires.

“The fact is anyone close to fireworks is in danger. Fireworks can be unpredictable, and injuries can happen to anyone,” said David Cohn, managing partner at personal injury attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Please understand the dangers, and celebrate safely.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles offers the following safety tips to make sure your Fourth of July is as fun and safe as possible. For local celebration and safety information, please see below.

  • Never give fireworks to small children, or allow them to ignite fireworks.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, and away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • Never light them indoors.
  • Never use illegal fireworks.

If someone is injured by fireworks, here’s what you can do:

  • If an eye injury happens, don’t let the injured person touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Don’t flush the eye out with water or try to put any ointment on it. Cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and get medical care right away — eyesight may depend on it.
  • If someone suffers a burn, remove clothing from the burned area, and call your doctor immediately.
  • If someone is injured due to the negligence of someone else, please contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles immediately to receive legal assistance, be compensated for injuries suffered, and continue to get medical care in the future.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles in recent years has represented victims of fireworks accidents and other burn injury cases. In 2014 attorney David Cohn represented two men who suffered from severe injuries caused in a fireworks accident while attending a party on Fourth of July in west Bakersfield. The two men arrived at the party where party-goers were allegedly setting off illegal fireworks and explosives. A blast injured two people, and the case settled in 2018 for $2.3 million.

 

KERN COUNTY CELEBRATIONS

The city of Bakersfield canceled this year’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration at The Park at River Walk due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The city will broadcast a special Independence Day concert by the Bakersfield Municipal Band on multiple social media platforms. Other Kern County cities — including Shafter, Delano, Tehachapi, and McFarland — have also canceled its shows. Taft and Buttonwillow are continuing its shows with drive-in viewings.

Additionally, American Pyrotechnics Association announced fireworks sellers are expecting record sales this year because Americans may likely celebrate at home as public displays are canceled.

Local departments — including Bakersfield Fire, Kern County Fire, Bakersfield Police, and Kern County Sheriff’s Office — have joined forces to combat an increase in illegal fireworks activity locally.

Bakersfield Fire Department has started establishing teams of unmarked vehicles and fire engine companies to issue $1,500 citations to those violating fireworks laws. Residents are asked to report violations to kerncountyfire.org.

For more information about firework usage and fines, visit youlightitwewriteit.com.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Check your (safety) list twice for an injury-free holiday season

December 19, 2018 | 6:00 am


As Santa checks his list, you also should be checking your list this holiday season — your safety checklist, that is.

The holidays are ripe with dangers, from roadway hazards during holiday travel, to dangers at home from keeping warm and holiday decorating. It’s important you and your family take careful steps in celebrating, and make it through the holiday season injury-free.

Take note of these important safety tips courtesy of the accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

 

Holiday Travel

California Highway Patrol is conducting a DUI “maximum enforcement period” during the holidays, and encouraging Californians to use other travel options if they choose to consume drugs and alcohol, including medications, prescription or over the counter drugs that are common during the cold season.

Bakersfield Police Department, too, is helping spread the message about the dangers of drunk and drugged driving to get impaired drivers off roads. In partnership with California Office of Traffic Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, officers are launching the high-visibility enforcement campaign “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” through January 1. During this time, more officers will be on the streets of Bakersfield conducting saturation patrols, looking for drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, driving aggressively or distracted, and making sure drivers are properly licensed.

During the Christmas and New Year’s weekends in 2017, 25 people were killed and 643 injured on California roads, according to CHP. Don’t let yourself be a statistics this year.

“Any arrest during the holidays means a family that won’t have a loved one present during the holidays — due to an arrest or worse — because of a decision made to drive while under the influence,” said Matt Clark, attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Not only are you putting your life at risk, you are putting the lives of other innocent families at risk by driving under the influence. Just don’t do it.”

If you’re traveling long distances, plan your trip ahead of time and prepare for any potential emergencies.

 

Decorating Safely 

Decorating is one of the best parts of the holidays, but it also leads to thousands of emergency room visits every season. Here are a few tips to prevent accidents and injuries:

  • Hang breakable ornaments at top of the tree. This leaves room for kids to decorate the bottom with non-breakable items.
  • Always use the proper step ladder; don’t stand on chairs or other furniture.
  • Keep harmful plants out of reach. Some popular holiday plants are poisonous to children and pets, including mistletoe and holly berries.
  • Be aware of devices with button batteries. Keep those devices out of children’s reach.

 

Staying Warm

Thousands of deaths are caused by fires, burns and other fire-related injuries every year, and 12 percent of home candle fires occur in December, according to the National Safety Council, due to increased usage of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations in many homes. To prevent fires and burn injuries at home:

  • Water natural trees regularly. When needles are dry, they can catch fire easily.
  • Turn off decorative lights before leaving home or going to sleep. Regularly check lights for exposed or frayed wires and loose connections.
  • Keep candles and matches out of reach. Lit candles should be at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep. Store matches and lighters out of children’s reach and sight.
  • Check smoke alarms. Make sure there is a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and near sleeping areas. Review your fire escape plan with family members and guests.
  • Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace.
  • Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, contact the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com

How to keep your home safe to avoid common accidents, injuries

June 28, 2017 | 9:31 am


Nearly 150,000 people in the United States died from accidental deaths in 2015, and many of these tragedies happened in the home. Today, unintentional injury-related deaths are an all-time high, according to the National Safety Council. In the home, the accidents include poisonings from prescriptions drugs, falls, drownings, and burns, among others.

For the month of June, during “National Home Safety Month,” Chain | Cohn | Stiles is focusing on proper safety precautions you can take to avoid common accidents and injuries, and make sure you and your families are as safe as possible while at home.

 

Poisoning

While more and more people are being put on prescription pain medications to be treated for injuries, we are also seeing an increase in the amount of people who suffer or die because of accidental drug overdoses.

In 2011, poisonings overtook motor vehicle crashes for the first time as the leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death for all ages combined. In fact, about 2.2 million people calling poison control every single year, and more than 90 percent of all poisonings happen at home. Tragically, every day, 52 people die because of opioids.

For tips on finding where the dangers lurk at home, visit the National Safety Council’s website. And if you need help, call the National Poison Control Center number at (800) 222-1222.

 

Falls

According to Injury Facts, falls are the No.1 cause of injury-related deaths among individuals who are age 65 and older. Approximately 9,500 elderly Americans will fall this year, and among those who fracture a bone, 87 percent of them will fall again within the next 6 months. However, these falls are preventable. Here are some tips, courtesy of “Stand Up to Falls”.

  • Eliminate tripping hazards.
  • Electrical and phone cords should be secured in a non-walking area. All cabinets should be closed when they are not being used.
  • If there is spilled water or drinks in the house, make sure they are cleaned.
  • Finally, make sure you’re not carrying anything heavier than you are able to carry. Have someone help you with heavy items, or take more than one trip for multiple items, like groceries.

For more tips, visit the National Safety Council website.

 

Choking and Suffocation 

Suffocation is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury-related death over all age groups, and choking on food or other objects is a primary cause. Suffocation is also the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for people 87 and older.

If a person is coughing forcefully, encourage continued coughing to clear the object. A person who can’t cough, speak or breathe, however, needs immediate help. Ask if they are choking and let them know you will use abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich maneuver, to prevent suffocation. Learn how to do the Heimlich maneuver by clicking here.

If the victim is or becomes unresponsive, lower the person to the ground, expose the chest and start CPR.

Choking is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for infants, who require a different rescue procedure than adults. Clear the airway, and do the following only if the infant cannot cry, cough or breathe

 

Drowning

About 10 people drown every day, and drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death over all ages. It’s also the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, mostly due to children falling into pools or being left alone in bathtubs.

Fortunately, there are several tips available for children and adults to prevent these tragedies.

For children:

  • Always watch your child while he or she is bathing, swimming or around water
  • Gather everything needed (towel, bath toys and sunscreen) before the child enters the water; if you must leave the area, take the child with you.
  • Do not allow your child to play or swim in canals or streams
  • Install a fence with self-closing gate latches around your pool or hot tub
  • Consider installing door alarms to alert adults when a child has unexpectedly opened a door leading to a pool or hot tub
  • Keep a phone and life preserver near the pool or hot tub in case of emergency
  • Use snug-fitting life jackets instead of floaties, but remember that a child can still drown with a life jacket on if not carefully watched

For adults:

  • Always swim with a buddy
  • Never swim if you have been drinking alcohol or have taken certain medications
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Swim in designated areas with lifeguards

 

Fires and Burns 

Fire is the sixth leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death over all ages. Often, fires start at night, when family members are asleep. A working smoke alarm will cut the chances of dying in a fire in half.

The National Safety Council provides the following tips to keep your home safe from fire:

  • Install smoke alarms (ionization and photoelectric) and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Plan and practice an escape route and agree on a meeting place outside of your home
  • Know two ways out of every room in the home
  • Learn how to use your fire extinguisher
  • If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll
  • When evacuating, if door handles are hot, pick an alternate route
  • Leave your house and call for help; do not go back to help someone else

The U.S. Fire Administration offers these additional tips to keep children safe from fire and burns:

  • Keep children 3 feet away from anything hot, like candles, space heaters and stove-tops
  • Keep smoking materials locked up in a high place; never leave cigarette lighters or matches where children can reach them
  • Never play with lighters or matches when you are with your children; they may try to imitate you

For more ways to stay safe and protected from home emergencies, click here to read previous Blogging for Justice posts related to home safety.

— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident due to the fault of someone else, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles as soon as possible at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.