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Kenton Brine, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director     
NW Insurance Council    
Phone: (206) 624-3330/(800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975

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Fourth of July: fireworks spark concerns about safety and insurance

SEATTLE, June 30, 2017 The Fourth of July is a day of celebration for millions of Americans.  Picnics, barbecues and fireworks displays are all part of the festivities.  The NW Insurance Council joins local public safety officials in reminding people that Independence Day can be dangerous, however, if safety is not a top priority.

Fireworks are blamed for an average of 18,500 fires across the nation per year, resulting in $43 million in direct property damage, according to the most recent data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA also reports that in 2015, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks-related injuries. The risk of injury from fireworks is highest for young people ages five to nine, followed by children under ages 10 to 19.

Carelessness or lack of knowledge can lead to a spoiled holiday or worse, severe injuries or property damage.  Many communities across the Northwest have enacted ordinances prohibiting all personal fireworks, or limiting the types of fireworks and/or the times during which they can be used, so it’s a good idea to check with your local fire or law enforcement officials to know the laws in your area.

NW Insurance Council and the Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal offers the following safety tips to help you enjoy your Independence Day celebration:

  • Contact local authorities for fireworks laws specific to your area.
  • Always read and follow the instructions listed on the fireworks. 
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place out of children’s reach.
  • Do not allow children to play with fireworks. Never give sparklers to children age 5 and younger. Always have a responsible adult present.
  • Buy fireworks and all pyrotechnics from reliable businesses.
  • Always use fireworks outdoors.  Never ignite inside your home or garage.
  • Always have water handy to douse hot fireworks (a garden hose and a bucket).
  • Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  • Never re-light “dud” fireworks. Wait 15-20 minutes, then soak in a bucket of water.
  • Stay away from illegal explosives.
  • Keep pets indoors for their safety.

If fireworks are used near your home, that means your house and property (and possibly that of your neighbors) are exposed to a risk of fire damage and you, your family and your guests are vulnerable to injury. 

If an accident occurs, a standard Homeowners Insurance policy covers fire damage to your home and property, including plants, trees and shrubs (minus your deductible). The same policy also provides coverage if your home is damaged due to the negligence of others (in the event your neighbor’s fireworks display ignites your home or landscape). Your Homeowners Insurance also covers injuries to guests up to the limits of your Liability Coverage

“Our nation’s freedom remains a unique and monumental ideal that calls for celebration,” said Kenton Brine, NW Insurance Council president.  “But with freedom comes responsibility – including adherence to local fireworks ordinances and the safe use of fireworks where they are allowed.”

For more information on fireworks safety and Homeowners Insurance, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education and public policy organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.