SFMO: Start The New Year Safely By Avoiding a Fireworks Mishap!

Consider The Financial, Physical Risks Before Using Fireworks
Tuesday, December 29, 2020 | 02:50pm

NASHVILLE – During the upcoming New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day holidays (Dec. 31 and Jan. 1), the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office urge Tennesseans to consider the financial and physical risks that can arise from a fireworks-related mishap.

Accidental fires or damages caused by fireworks in a Tennessee municipality that bans fireworks may not be covered by traditional homeowners or renters insurance policies thus putting the financial burden of making repairs solely on the shoulders of consumers.

Additionally, consumer fireworks pose a hazard to Tennesseans’ health and safety, especially to young people. Nationwide, an estimated 9,100 fireworks injuries were treated at hospital emergency departments in 2018 while 36 percent of fireworks injuries were to children younger than 15 years old, according to the most recent U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Annual Fireworks Report. About 45 percent of fireworks injuries were burns.

“Fireworks, by their nature, are dangerous and pose a threat to consumers’ safety and property no matter the safety precautions that someone might take,” said Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley. “During the New Year’s holidays, I urge Tennesseans to not risk starting a fire or injuring themselves thereby adding to the burdens of our hard-working first responders.”

Heading into the new year, TDCI reminds consumers to remember the risks that come from consumer fireworks.

Know the Financial, Legal and Safety Risks from Fireworks

Many insurance policies contain provisions disclaiming coverage for illegal acts 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 policy. Several counties and cities in the Volunteer State have ordinances and restrictions related to fireworks usage. Before purchasing or detonating fireworks, TDCI urges residents to check with their local police or fire department to determine local laws about fireworks.

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 them.
  • 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 (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.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a firework 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.
  • Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
  • Keep a bucket of water and 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 long after they’ve burned out. You wouldn’t hand a matchbook or lighter to a child to wave or play with – so, don’t give a child a sparkler.

For more fire safety information, visit tn.gov/fire.