Fireworks are Legal in Florida But Should We Be Using Them?

Video Transcription:

Hi, it's Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. So, fireworks should we should we be using them, you know, here does I'm filming this just before the 4th of July and probably the biggest fireworks day in the country, other than maybe the New Year's Eve but the question in my mind is this whole history of fireworks. Getting them into the hands of the public and how, how, and whether they should be used.

You know, fireworks have a long history in this country in the writings of John Adams when the American revolution was successful in the concept in the Declaration of Independence from signing on July 4th, you know, his position and his book was that we should have fireworks and planning bells and explosions in the sky. Forever commemorating this momentous event of our independence from England and 1776. So fireworks were really popular, well used and available back then just as they are today.

I think really when we think of fireworks, there's two different things involved. We have the public displays of fireworks. You know, I love to watch like the Capital Fourth, I used to love to watch the Boston, Boston pops and the fireworks place that had their I'm used to, you know, here and where I am in Clearwater always had magnificent fireworks displays all the major towns had them and it was fantastic.  

The issue really comes down from a public safety standpoint is when they get into the hands of us, you know, the private citizen. For years, you know, my kids were little, they wanted fireworks and all these places were popping up along the street and selling fireworks. When you went in there, you had to sign some form that you were chasing away birds, or you used them in railroad demolition, or you are on a farm or something. And you know, it always bothered me as a parent to walk in and say, I'm going to show to my kids. I want you to have fireworks. I'm going to fill out this form telling an untruth, you know, and it's really, it was. Kind of a perplexing dilemma and what kind of example of setting, but, you know, obviously I did it.

The problem is that those of us who go get fireworks and I don't do it any longer. I did when the kid, my kids were little, I wouldn't do it today. Back then, they were illegal and now as of April of this year, 2020, they are legal. Governor DeSantis signed a bill. Making fireworks legal in Florida on three days of the year, July 4th, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Those are the only three days of the year. They are legal.

I think it's kind of a mistake to do that personally, because fireworks are dangerous in the reality is when you get fireworks in the hands of inexperienced people, accompanied by a desire for kids to be with them, handle them, be close to them. To watch them and you throw in a little alcohol along the way, you've got to real potential for disaster to happen, and I understand lots of people use fireworks safely every year, but when things go wrong, they really go wrong.

I think one of the most common issues with fireworks is, you know, you think about these things are made typically I think in China, or as I know, they're not exactly made to exacting standards. They're inexpensive but yet they, they're very powerful and they burn and produce an intense amount of heat. You know, that like a child sparkler burns at almost 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. It's incredible. The amount of heat that those things have. And when they come in contact with the human tissue, they do incredible damage. If kids are so unpredictable, they have these things, these wire coded sticks and they're flashing them around. It just used to drive me crazy, being concerned about the kids, you know, and hurting one another but you know, the fact that these things are so prevalent doesn't necessarily mean that we should be.

The Bucs of a football player who lost part of his, his hand in a fireworks accident several years ago and almost ended his career. If you go through and just Google famous people who have been injured by fireworks, there's quite a list of people that in sports. in particularly that you would know that we're handling fireworks and got horribly injured. These injuries usually occur either with a blast injury or a burn injury. What happens so many times, you know, we've all had the experience. When I was a kid, we used to get cherry bombs and M-80s you know, and I used to build model airplanes and put fireworks on and blow them to smithereens. I don't know how I got a hold of those things and I don't know how we got through about getting hurt. Thankfully, those kinds of explosives aren't available these days apparently, but. you know, these things in the hands of the open inexperienced person, you know, like how many times have you been around in fireworks in the private setting when you light it and it doesn't go off. It's a dud, right? So what do you do? You try to light it again right now, the fuse is really, really short and you're down there trying to light it and boom! You light it and it explodes immediately, and the person lighting and is real close to the fireworks.

The other thing that happens is that just the unexpected occurs. You know, many of these, like these bottle rockets, they're on a stick and they're supposed to go up in the sky. Sometimes they don't go up in the sky. Sometimes they fall off and go laterally on the ground. I wrote, recently about a case we had several years ago, a beautiful young girl sitting in her own driveway in her garage, watching the neighbors, she know fireworks.
A bottle-type rocket was supposed to go up in the air. It went sideways and landed in the lap of this little girl. I mean, it was incredible. The damage that was done to her, her arm, her abdomen, down in her inner thigh area and the interior of her legs was just incredible and how the burn injuries that can occur from that thing. It's just unbelievable. What happens in a few seconds, one of these things comes in contact with our skin.

So, you know, they're unpredictable and people aren't experienced and they're just dangerous to be around. I guess you're getting the drift and I'm not a real big advocate of fireworks. My position is the, you know, they just shouldn't be in private hands. I don't think, a lot of times, you know, people are down there trying to light a firework with a match. The match gets too close. They're not using an igniter giving them at least another 8 or 10 inches between them and the explosive. There's just so many things that can go wrong. You have the, the accidents and then you have just the weirdness of life and things going on, inexplicably wrong. That's usually what happens when some someone gets horribly injured. It's totally unexpected unanticipated, but,  people get really their lives changed, and they have disfiguring, horrible injuries.

I get it, you know, I've got kids and grandkids and they want to see them. They want to be around them. They want to be close to them. They want to handle what they can handle. I kinda get it., and it's sort of like the attractiveness of all this, but you know, when you have the chance to avoid being around those things in my view, that's what you should do. They're, these are legal, but they're not safe.

What happens though, when the unexpected occurs, you know, if you, are a homeowner or a renter are handling the fireworks and something goes wrong, you're on the hook potentially. Okay. Every, the facts and every case going to be different, but you initiate it. It's your fireworks and you're setting it off or it's being done in your yard, on your property. You have the potential liability for what, what, when unexpected goes wrong. The person, somebody else may be there actually handling it that day. That means they may be responsible as well. So there's a two-edge sword, if you're the person buying and displaying, discharging the fireworks on your property, you could be responsible when the unexpected happens and someone gets injured. But. if you are an innocent bystander or get injured because of the fireworks, then the person responsible may be your neighbor, your friend, your family member, who's home, you're visiting. So when someone gets horribly injured in any type of accident and they walk into a lawyer's office, they're looking for someone that can pay the compensation for someone for this unexpected, but preventable injury that just happened.

So I'm just, you know, it's like here I am the Grinch of the 4th of July saying, you know, this is a momentous event. It's a wonderful celebration of our country, fireworks, service, historical perspective that we all enjoy at the same time I'm saying I wouldn't use these things and kinda that's my perspective.

I do hope that you have a wonderful 4th of July. I hope that if you're around fireworks that you are safe about it, I don't want anyone to get injured. Just keep my thoughts in mind as you go forward with the weekend. Just do the things always expect the unexpected and try to account for the unexpected. Alright and do your best out there to be safe.

I'm Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. If you're injured on or off the bike, anywhere in Florida, you need me, I'll be there for you regardless of where you are in the state. Okay. Have a Happy 4th! Thank you. Bye.


Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.