For many, the Fourth of July means celebrating with a cookout and fireworks. But a good time with family and friends could prove to be dangerous and deadly. On average, 250 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around July Fourth; that's according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Here are some tips to help you safeguard yourself, those around you and your home this holiday.
Protecting your home
Before you set off fireworks, be sure to know the ins and outs of your home insurance policy on whether you are covered. A basic home insurance policy covers fires caused by fireworks you or a family member sets off. However, if fireworks are illegal in your city or state, your policy won't protect you. Even if your city allows fireworks, your policy might contain safety requirements and restrictions. If someone who's not a family member damages your home, you will be covered regardless of whether fireworks are legal in your jurisdiction.
Fireworks safety tips include:
- Keep a bucket of water close by
- Never relight a dud
- Avoid throwing or pointing fireworks at anyone or anything
- Supervise adolescents and never let young children use fireworks
Putting the burn on grease fires
More fires are reported on the Fourth of July than any other day, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and fireworks aren't the only culprit. Grills are a leading cause of structure fires, and a grease fire or burn from a grill could land you in the emergency room.
If you barbecue:
- Cook outdoors in a ventilated area
- Place grill far away from home or other structures so sparks and flames don't ignite siding
- Never leave a burning fire unattended
Setting off fireworks not only puts your property and neighbors' homes in danger, it could cause serious bodily harm or injury if not handled properly. According to the CPSC, in 2016, 11,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries.
If you get hurt while setting off fireworks on your property, your homeowners insurance — not your health insurance — should cover your injuries. If your fireworks injure someone else, your homeowners insurance — not your health insurance— will pay for the hospital bills. This all depends on if fireworks are legal in your state; if not, then you may be personally liable for the damages or injuries.
Your homeowners insurance policy won't cover damage or injuries:
- If it's illegal to use fireworks in your state
- If you intentionally set fire to your home using a firecracker
- If your neighbor's fireworks start a blaze in your home (their policy should cover)
If your standard homeowners policy doesn't protect against damage from fireworks, an umbrella policy might. Always check with your insurance agent or company and review your policy.
For information on how to properly use and dispose of fireworks, contact the CPSC.