How to celebrate Fourth of July safely, avoid tragedy, and report illegal fireworks

June 25, 2021 | 2:25 pm


This year’s Independence Day is perhaps extra special as our country continues to slowly come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. And what better way to celebrate than with traditional Fourth of July fireworks?

But festivities and fun can turn to a terrible tragedy in an instant without proper safety practices.

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.

“With fireworks, disaster and catastrophe can really happen in an instant,” said David Cohn, managing partner at personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We can celebrate our great nation’s Independence, and still be safe by taking steps to keep you and your families safe.”

 

LOCAL FIREWORKS

Locally, Kern County Fire Department received 2,410 reports of illegal fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday weekend in 2020, The Bakersfield Californian reported, with 703 calls coming through their dispatch center and 1,707 reports made online — a large increase over 2019, local fire officials said. Kern Fire also issued 35 citations and seized 2,000 pounds of illegal fireworks during last year’s Fourth of July weekend.

Local residents are encouraged to fill out a simple form (by clicking here) at any time to report illegal fireworks. You can also email [email protected] The Bakersfield Fire Department is allowing residents to drop off illegal fireworks at their downtown Bakersfield station.

As for other areas in Kern County:

  • Delano residents can report illegal fireworks to the Delano Police Department at 661-721-3377.
  • McFarland residents can report illegal fireworks to the McFarland Police Department at 792-2121. You can also text 428-1265 to report a tip.
  • Tehachapi residents can report illegal fireworks to the Tehachapi Police Department Communications Center at 822-2222.

The City of Bakersfield will hold a fireworks show 9:15 p.m. on July 4 at the Park at River Walk, 11298 Stockdale Highway. Musical accompaniment for the show will be provided by 97.3 The Bull, and attendees can tune in during the fireworks show for a simulcast. The event will also be livestreamed on 23ABC’s digital platforms, including turnto23.com, as well as Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV.

In Delano, a fireworks show — hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Delano and the city of Delano — will be held at dusk on Saturday, July 3, at dusk, from the North end of the Delano Airport.

Buttonwillow Recreation and Parks District is presenting its 14th Annual Fireworks Show on Saturday, July 3, at Buttonwillow Park. The event is free and the gates open at 6:30 p.m., with the fireworks show starting at 9 p.m. Lawn seating will only be available — bring lawn chairs or a blanket. Pre-show entertainment includes a cornhole tournament, music, small business vendors, BBQ, snow cones, cold drinks and other food.

A show at Lake Isabella starts at 9:30 p.m. at Engineer Point.

McFarland will hold its’ annual Fourth of July celebration on Saturday, July 3, with fireworks launching at 9 p.m. You should be able to see the show from any of the parks in McFarland.

In Shafter, a fireworks show is scheduled for Saturday, July 3, at Shafter Recreation Fields next to the high school football stadium. The evening will begin at 6 p.m., with the fireworks setting off at about 8:45 p.m.

In Taft, festivities will take place from 4 to 10 p.m. on July 4, at Franklin Field, featuring bounce houses, games, sports, food and craft vendors, and music. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m. and are free to the community.

Tehachapi will be holding a fireworks show on July 4 as a part of its All-American Festival at the Philip Marx Central Park. That show begins at 9 p.m.

Wasco will hold a fireworks show on July 3 as part of its One Nation Festival at Beale Park.

 

FIREWORKS SAFETY

Chain | Cohn | Stiles offers the following safety tips to make sure your Fourth of July is as fun and safe as possible.

  • 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.

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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.

Fourth of July Safety: Even legal fireworks (including sparklers) can be dangerous

July 1, 2019 | 4:36 pm


As the sun starts to set on Fourth of July, Kern County streets start to shine bright with multi-colored fountains of light and flashes. But a celebration of our nation’s independence can turn tragic quickly without proper fireworks safety measures.

In fact, did you know 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.

Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks: serious burns, eye injuries, structure fires, and even death.

In 2017, for example, eight people died in our country and over 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents. Of those, 50% of the injuries were to children and young adults under the age of 20. While the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, an estimated 1,200 injuries were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Injuries to people aside, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires.

Even sparklers, popular among young children, can be dangerous — much more than most people think. Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals, and can quickly ignite clothing. Many children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet. In fact, sparklers account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries, and nearly half of injuries for children under 5 years old, according to the National Safety Council. Alternatives include glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles advises everyone to enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals. They may be legal in Kern County, but they are not necessarily safe.

But if you do take part and celebrate the Fourth of July with legal fireworks, here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Never allow young children to play with or 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. Plus, fire departments in both Bakersfield and Kern County hand out fines of $1,500 and up for illegal firework activity.

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 clients, and the case settled in 2018 for $2.3 million.

— Alexa Esparza contributed to this report.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a fireworks accident due to the negligence of another, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.