Fireworks Accidents Cause Serious Injury, Death in Oklahoma

One of the most common ways to celebrate Independence Day is through fireworks, whether shooting off bottle rockets at home or enjoying a public display.  However, for thousands of Americans each year, enjoying the "rockets' red glare" quickly turns to tragedy.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 200 people seek emergency room treatment for fireworks accident injuries every day during the thirty days surrounding the Fourth of July.  This time frame accounts for sixty-five percent of all fireworks injuries each year. Injuries sustained in fireworks accidents are often severe and sometimes fatal.  The CPSC lists the most commonly occurring fireworks injuries:

  • Hand and finger injuries (46%)
  • Eye injuries (17%)
  • Head, face, and ear injuries (17%)
  • Leg injuries (11%)
  • Trunk injuries (5%)
  • Arm injuries (4%)
Of no surprise to Oklahoma burn injury lawyers, the CPSC reports that more than half of all fireworks-related injuries are burn injuries, including third degree burns and fatal burns.  However, while burns are the most common injuries, they are certainly not the only injuries associated with fireworks mishaps. In fact, the Amputee Coalition of America advises against fireworks use because of the number of people who lose fingers, hands, and parts of their arms as a result of fireworks explosions. Over the last several years, a number of Oklahomans have been critically injured or lost their lives in fireworks accidents, both on personal property and at public fireworks displays:
  • In 2007, siblings Travis Dillard, 25, and Shannon Wilson,27, of Yukon, suffered fatal burn injuries when a trash can full of fireworks was ignited by a stray spark and exploded at the public display where they were working in Piedmont, Oklahoma.
  • In 2009, Richard Hines, 26, of Dibble, was killed when a fireworks he was holding above his head above his head malfunctioned, causing hand and head injuries.
  • In 2010, T.J. Silver, 40, of Enid was critically injured while lighting a fireworks fuse and it blew up prematurely.
  • In 2011, Austin McCloud, 19, of Skiatook was killed when the fireworks he bent over to light exploded prematurely, striking him in the head and throat.
Each year in Oklahoma, fireworks are banned in a number of cities and counties as a result of burn bans or municipal codes.  To prevent personal injury, Oklahomans are encouraged to take advantage public fireworks displays sponsored by local towns and cities.  For those who choose to set off fireworks at home, it is important to be aware of potential risks and to act responsibly to avoid injury and death.

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