Celebrate the Fourth of July with Fire Safety

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Using fireworks is a mainstay of most Americans’ Fourth of July celebrations. Unfortunately, consumer fireworks can also pose a hazard to Tennesseans’ health and safety when used incorrectly.

Ahead of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (“TDCI”) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (“SFMO”) reminds Tennesseans to consider the risks to their personal safety, property, and finances that can arise from consumer fireworks-related mishaps.

Across the U.S., fireworks were responsible for eight deaths and an estimated 9,700 injuries in 2023, according to a new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In Tennessee, fire departments responded to 135 fires started by fireworks that caused an estimated $937,649 in direct property damages.

“The safest way to celebrate Independence Day with friends, family members, and loved ones is to attend a public fireworks display put on by trained and licensed fireworks professionals,” said Tennessee State Fire Marshal and TDCI Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “If you choose to use consumer fireworks to celebrate, I ask that consumers first familiarize themselves with their local fireworks laws as some municipalities have ordinances and restrictions related to fireworks usage. Additionally, consumers should always follow all safety guidelines and warnings to help ensure a safe and fun experience for all.”

“I remind consumers that using fireworks at home not only carries a risk of injury or property damages to them and their loved ones, but also to first responders who might be called to fight a fire or treat an injury caused by careless use of fireworks,” said interim Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Mary Beth Gribble. “Before purchasing or using fireworks, Tennesseans should remember the real cost to their health that can occur.”

Know the Financial, Legal, and Safety Risks of Fireworks

Many insurance policies contain provisions disclaiming coverage for illegal acts (which might include shooting fireworks) committed by the insured. However, consumers who experience property damage due to another person’s use of fireworks may be able to claim benefits under their homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy.

In addition to local laws, Tennessee has several state laws pertaining to fireworks:

  • A 2007 Tennessee law prevents children under 16 from purchasing fireworks. Those who are 16 or 17 must present a photo ID to purchase fireworks.
  • State legislation passed in 2011 reclassified sky lanterns as special fireworks exclusively for use by individuals with a professional license. The general public cannot purchase or use sky lanterns. If a sky lantern is found in the possession of someone who does not have a professional license issued by the SFMO, the device can be confiscated and destroyed.
  • A law passed in 2015 prohibits flying a drone (an unmanned aircraft) above an outdoor ticketed event with more than 100 people or in the vicinity of a fireworks display site, without the permission of the event operator.

If consumer fireworks are legal where you live in Tennessee and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:

  • Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks.
  • 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.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals.
  • Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
  • Sparklers are not toys and cause hundreds of injuries every year. Sparklers burn hot, can reach temperatures as high as 1,200° F, and stay hot after they’ve burned out.

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