Starting this Friday, nearly 4.7 million people will be traveling by car, 160 million plan to visit local festivities, and over 115 million will be attending firework demonstrations to celebrate Independence Day! Connecticut residents across the state are gearing up for an exciting holiday weekend but few may be keeping safety in mind when finalizing their patriotic plans.
Fourth of July: Deadly and Dangerous
Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year, plagued with reckless behaviors, out of control parties, and patriots forgetting to use caution during their celebrations. It only takes a second to become a victim of a serious or fatal holiday accident and these are the most common culprits when it comes to causing Independence Day tragedies.
Devastating Firework Displays
A Connecticut man was criminally charged for a firework accident that resulted in a guest losing part of his arm back in 2016. The man illegally organized a firework show in his neighborhood when a pipe bomb explosion caused serious injury to the guest’s arm, later requiring a partial amputation.
When it comes to consumer fireworks, only two types are legal for Connecticut residents to use at home: sparklers and fountains. Yet, thousands of people visit the emergency room every year due to injuries sustained from other types of firework products either homemade or purchased illegally from out of state vendors. Over 11,000 firework-related injuries are treated every year in ER’s across the country, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (2016). About 68% of these accidents take place between June 18 to July 18 and involve injuries such as:
- broken bones
- second and third-degree burns
Firework injuries are most often reported on the head, face, and ears (20%), legs (18%), eyes (9%) and arms (8%). Anyone can be injured by a firework, but the most common populations who show up in the ER are on July 4th are children 5-years-old and under, as well as adults ages 20 to 24.
Last July, a 2-year-old girl was placed on life support after a drowning accident in a pool at a Bridgeport home. The incident occurred the Friday before the Fourth of July weekend; sadly, the girl passed away days later unable to recover from her injuries.
Drowning accidents can happen in an instant. Contrary to how the media portrays them, drownings are often silent- children can drown only a few feet away from an adult. Drowning is the second-leading cause of death for children ages 1-14, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and for every child who dies from drowning, at least another five receive emergency care for near-drowning accidents. Nonfatal drowning accidents can result in:
- brain damage
- long-term disabilities
- memory loss
- learning disabilities
- permanent loss of brain functioning
Drowning accidents for both adults and children can be caused by slip and falls, boating accidents, rough water play, lack of proper flotation devices (lifejacket), or other freak accidents that can occur in the water.
Backyard Barbecue Blazes
In May of this year, a seven-unit apartment fire in Middletown caused an explosion and serious building damages. The fire was caused by a resident who was grilling on the back porch in close proximity of the building and railings.
July is the peak season for grill fires with an average of 1,500 fires reported every year, according to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). Several factors can contribute to a grill fire, the most common including:
- Failing to clean the burners or drip pan.
- Place grill too close to combustible materials.
- Leaving the grill unattended.
- Leak or break in propane line.
- Using an outside cooking fire.
- Unclassified mechanical failures.
Patrons can sustain major injuries from grill fires such as direct burns, non-contact burns, and respiratory issues from heavy smoke. Houses, neighboring building, fences, shed, and other structures are all at risk for damages in a grill fire and could cause massive casualties if the fire spreads quick.
Deadly Driving Hazards
A six-vehicle accident on I-95 in East Haven resulted in two people needing to be extricated from their cars and several people requiring medical treatment back in 2016. Sadly, one person was killed in the wreck when her car hit a cement barrier- she was the fifth car involved in the accident.
July 4th is one of the deadliest days for drivers on the road. Connecticut State Troopers respond to an average of 300 to 400 vehicle accidents on Fourth of July every year. In 2016, police reported 315 accidents: 45 of them resulted in injuries and two of them were the cause of three fatalities, including the incident above. Accidents caused over the Fourth of July holiday happen for a number of reasons, including:
- Increased congestion on the roads.
- More driver distractions (extra passengers, fireworks, traffic).
- Aggressive driving habits.
- Fatigue due to celebration overload.
- More teen drivers hitting the roads.
- Increase in drunk driving.
Alcohol plays a critical role in causing accidents and escalating the severity of injuries. Statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the last 25 years shows drunk driving increases up to 51% on July 4th, and with millions of drivers on the road, it can be hard to tell which ones are sober until it’s too late.
Celebrate Independence Day Safely
Jacobs & Wallace along with safety organizations around the state want you to enjoy a safe and healthy Independence Day celebration this year. To help you prepare for safety this holiday, the American Red Cross recommends numerous steps to prevent unnecessary accidents:
- Fireworks: The best way to avoid firework injuries is to attend a public display. However, if you are planning to light a few legal products at your home, follow these safety rules:
- Never give fireworks to small children.
- Follow the instructions on the packages.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby.
- Wear safety gloves and goggles if you are the one lighting the fireworks.
- Never relight a firework that didn’t ignite.
- Light one firework at a time.
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from pets and kids.
- Grilling: Regardless of the type of grill you cook on, these safety tips can be helpful in preventing grilling injuries this season:
- Never leave grill unsupervised.
- Always grill outdoors away from railings, decks, and buildings.
- Keep children, pets and other away from the grill.
- Use long-handled tools to avoid burns.
- Never add starter fluid to charcoal that won’t light.
- If your propane burners do not light, wait at least 5 minutes for the gas to dissipate before trying again.
- Swimming: Oceans, lakes, and pools all pose different hazards to swimmers and should always be approached cautiously:
- Check the weather before and during swimming for signs of storms.
- Never drink and swim or drink while supervising kids swimming.
- Never swim alone, especially at night or in the ocean.
- Don’t dive headfirst, particular into lakes and oceans.
- Always supervise children by the water.
- Watch for rip currents when in the ocean.
- Never swim in areas at the beach without lifeguards present.
When it comes to avoiding dangers on the roads, the safety site End Distracted Driving (EndDD) suggests taking these precautions when behind the wheel this holiday:
- Always buckle up.
- Never drink and drive.
- Put the cellphone and other distractions away (and don’t watch fireworks while you drive!)
- Follow the speed limits.
- Load vacation gear properly.
- Stay alert and aware of aggressive motorists.
- Drive cautiously on congested highways and rural roads.
Don’t Let Negligence Ruin Independence Day
Don’t let risky behaviors ruin your Fourth of July. Stay alert and in control as you celebrate our country’s independence- we have a lot of freedoms to be thankful for and the right to be safe is one of them.
Independence Day accidents can cause serious and fatal injuries, changing the lives of Connecticut residents forever. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligence of another, Jacobs & Wallace is on your side. Call us today to schedule a free case review and explore your options for seeking justice. Our knowledgeable team will defend your right to celebrate safely this holiday, fighting back against those who cause unnecessary harm to others.