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Fourth of July fireworks failures can lead to future lawsuits

Barbecues and fireworks are an American tradition on the Fourth of July -- but playing the host with the most fireworks in town can cause serious trouble.

If you're thinking of hosting a barbecue or backyard party for your friends and relatives this Fourth of July, there are some sobering statistics you need to keep in mind:

-- Despite the fact that the National Fire Protection Association urges private consumers not to use fireworks at all, private consumers still make up the majority of the fireworks industry's market.

-- Private consumers purchase around $725 million worth of fireworks annually, which is more than double the amount spent annually on displays by cities, parks and other professionally-run exhibits.

-- Kids make up the biggest category of victims. Roughly 45 percent of those injured by fireworks will be a child aged 14 or under.

-- The fireworks that are often considered easy-to-use, like firecrackers, sky rockets and sparklers are the also responsible for the most injuries. Firecrackers alone account for 32 percent of injuries.

Most people simply don't realize the danger that they're putting themselves, their own children, the neighbor's children and other into when they pass out a box of sparklers -- for many years, no one thought much of the safety issues and many adults today remember using sparklers with great delight when they were children.

However, sparklers can reach 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. For comparison, consider this: Glass melts at 900 degrees. A sparkler burn can instantly cut completely through someone's clothing and skin or blind someone for life.

As the host, it's your general responsibility to make sure that your guests are safe and that there's nothing obviously going on that would put them at risk of harm. Given the known dangers about sparklers and other common consumer fireworks plus the constant publicity of groups like the National Fire Protection Association, it's hard to argue that you lacked adequate warning about the risks.

Do yourself a favor and set up lawn chairs where your guests can watch the local display light up the night instead of handing out personal fireworks.

If you're at someone else's house for the Fourth and the fireworks come out, steer clear. If you end up with a burn injury despite your best efforts to avoid an issue, consider contacting an attorney about the possibility of a lawsuit to recover fair compensation.

Source: National Fire Protection Association, "Fireworks," accessed June 16, 2017

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