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Fourth of July Fireworks Injuries and Local Laws in Nevada

July 08, 2019
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This past Thursday, we celebrated Independence Day. On this date we remember a time when our forefathers declared independence from British rule and embarked on a grand new experiment in democracy. On Thursday, many Americans marked the occasion with family barbecues including hot dogs, watermelon, and corn on the cob. Others attended city-wide parades and community celebrations. Children and adults alike dressed in patriotic hues to commemorate the colors of our nation’s flag. Songs were sung and stories were told. For many, the night ended with fireworks illuminating the night sky.

What many may not realize is that fireworks for personal use are actually illegal in many cities in Nevada, including Carson City. Sheriff Ken Furlong and Fire Chief Sean Slamon reminded residents on July 1st about the rule. According to Sheriff Furlong, “All fireworks are illegal to use in the streets or in the yard, even on your own property.” The law makes no exceptions for any small fireworks, as these can be dangerous as well. [1]

Wildfire Risk from Personal Fireworks

Law enforcement is worried about potential injury to those using fireworks, as well as the potential for larger disasters. The hills may look green in the area surrounding Carson City, but the temperatures are high and the grasses are dry and flammable. Brush fires can start and spread quickly, affecting nearby grasslands and even homes.  Fires can be started with a tiny spark, and once they begin they can spread extremely quickly. Wildfires are not uncommon in the Carson City area. Just one week before the Fourth of July, on June 27, a brush fire started north of Carson City Junior High School along Ormsby Boulevard. The fire only burned about three acres before firefighters extinguished the flames, but with higher temperatures or stronger winds it could have caused significantly more damage. [2]

Fireworks are risky in wildfire country, and penalties for using them illegally are appropriately severe. Under the Carson City Municipal Code, violators can receive a citation and can face a penalty of up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. If illegal fireworks end up setting a fire and causing damage to property, violators would also be responsible for the cost of any property damage caused by the resulting wildfire, as well as the cost of fighting the fire by public servants. [3]

Personal Injuries Resulting from Fireworks

Fireworks are also notorious for causing bodily injury to inexperienced users. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, 2019, more than 9,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries. Of these injuries, more than half were handled in an emergency room visit in the one-month period between June 22, 2018 and July 22, 2018. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 36 percent of fireworks injuries, and children between the ages of 10 and 14 had the highest estimated rate of emergency-department-treated injuries. Older teens were also likely to be injured by fireworks. A total of five fireworks-related deaths were reported during the survey period. All these fatalities were associated with reloadable aerial devices, and the victims died from direct impact with the fireworks. [4]

However, fatalities only accounted for five of the 9,000 fireworks-related injuries last year – it’s the nonlethal injuries that make them dangerous. Fireworks as small an innocuous as sparklers were responsible for 500 emergency department-treated injuries. Bottle rockets caused another 200. 1,000 injuries were caused by firecrackers. The breakdown of fireworks injuries is telling:

·        28 percent of fireworks injuries occurred on the hands and fingers

·        24 percent affected the legs

·        19 percent were to the eyes

·        15 percent affected the head, face, and ears

·        4 percent were on the arms

Almost half of these injures were burns. [5]

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Local Fireworks Laws

When planning a summer holiday celebration, keep in mind that each county in Nevada has its own laws regarding fireworks. Fireworks manufacturers may ship to anyone, but it is a buyer’s responsibility to make sure she or he follows all local laws and ordinances. Fireworks are illegal in Las Vegas and throughout Clark County except for the Safe-N-Sane variety in the week before the Fourth of July. Safe-N-Sane fireworks must be purchased between June 28 and July 4, and they must be sold by licensed vendors approved by the fire department in special booths in Clark County. These booths are typically run by nonprofit groups. If any fireworks remain unused after July Fourth, owners are advised to contact the local fire department to surrender them, as they are no longer legal. Throughout Nevada it is illegal to possess fireworks in schools, on streets and sidewalks, and on city, state, or federal property. This includes Nevada landmarks such as Red Rock, Death Valley, Mount Charleston, Spring Mountain, and Lake Mead. [6]

If you are injured while using a firework correctly and legally, check to see if the explosive is still lit and remove yourself from the immediate vicinity as quickly as possible to avoid further injury. Apply first aid or seek appropriate medical attention at the nearest hospital. Gather witness statements and take photographs of the product and the site of the injury.  Finally, reach out to a personal injury attorney to make sure you understand your rights as an injured party.

[1] https://www.nevadaappeal.com/news/carson-city/its-simple-fireworks-are-illegal-in-carson-city

[2] https://www.nevadaappeal.com/news/carson-city/its-simple-fireworks-are-illegal-in-carson-city

[3] https://www.nevadaappeal.com/news/carson-city/its-simple-fireworks-are-illegal-in-carson-city

[4] https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Fireworks_Report_2018.pdf

[5] https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Fireworks_Report_2018.pdf

[6] https://www.shouselaw.com/nevada/illegal-fireworks