FLORIDA—Popping sounds abound on New Year’s Eve – fireworks, champagne corks and, occasionally, gunfire. While these are meant to be celebratory, they also can be very dangerous, or in some cases, even fatal. Tripp Law Firm invites you to review the New Year’s Safety Tips and information below to assure that you and your loved ones are safe and sound while you ring in 2016.
TIP #1: Leaving the Fireworks Shows To The Fireworks Pros
Fireworks are an inevitable part of New Year’s Eve celebrations, whether you’re gathered watching a major public fireworks display or lighting up the sky with your own fireworks in your home’s driveway or back yard. Lets face it, when it comes to New Year’s Eve, celebrations would seem lacking without fireworks.
While we all know that most fireworks are dangerous, it’s still the consumer fireworks that unfortunately account for the vast majority of fireworks-related injuries. In 2014, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) found that some 10,500 Americans were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, and eleven people were killed by professional-grade, homemade or banned firework devices.
According to the University of Florida, Floridians should use only consumer fireworks permitted by state law and approved and listed by the State Fire Marshal. In Florida, legal devices include sparklers, cones, fountains, and some aerial items.
State law permits fireworks which: (1) emit a shower of sparks upon burning; (2) do not contain any explosive compounds; (3) do not detonate or explode; (4) are handheld or ground based; (5) cannot propel themselves through the air; and (6) contain no more than 100 grams of the chemical compound that produces sparks upon burning.
Novelties and trick noisemakers, including snakes, smoke devices, poppers, booby traps, and snappers, are also permitted.
Florida law prohibits the following items: (1) Firecrackers; (2) Torpedoes; (3) Skyrockets; (4) Roman candles; (5) Dago bombs; and (6) Any other fireworks that contain any explosive or flammable compounds.
The University of Florida, along with the CPSC, both urge Floridians to follow these guidelines to ensure your holiday does not include an unexpected trip to the emergency room:
- Consider leaving fireworks to professionals, and watch a public display.
- Use fireworks outdoors only (but not near dry brush or grass).
- Obey state and local laws.
- Always have water or a fire extinguisher handy.
- Only use fireworks as intended. Read and follow the label directions.
- Make sure an adult is always present to supervise firework activities.
- Keep young children away from all fireworks.
- Never relight or stand over a “dud” firework. Put it out with water.
- Do not use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives.
TIP #2: Uncorking with Care This New Year’s Eve
Surprisingly, one of the greatest dangers is actually found in that symbol of the New Year: Popping a Celebratory Bottle of Champagne. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a popped champagne cork can travel at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, which is fast enough to shatter glass. Unfortunately, this is also fast enough to permanently damage vision. Champagne cork mishaps can lead to a variety of serious eye injuries, including rupture of the eye wall, acute glaucoma, retinal detachment, ocular bleeding, dislocation of the lens, and damage to the eye’s bone structure. These injuries sometimes require urgent eye surgeries like stitching of the eye wall or repair of the orbital structure, and can even lead to blindness in the affected eye.
In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has even launched a campaign to help reduce the number of people who literally put their eyes out with champagne corks. As part of their campaign, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has provided tips on how to properly open a bottle of champagne at your 2016 New Year’s Celebration:
- Make sure sparkling wine is chilled to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
- Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle thereby increasing your chances of severe eye injury.
- To open the bottle safely, hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and from any bystanders.
- Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
- Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. Continue to hold the cork while twisting the bottle. Continue until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
- Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.
TIP #3: Keeping the Sky Free of Celebratory Gunshots This New Year’s Eve
Florida officials around the state would like to remind you that celebratory gunfire is currently a misdemeanor crime in Florida. Many of these officials are even pushing for legislation to toughen legal consequences – and with good reason. Shots fired randomly into the sky don’t simply disappear. Every single bullet lands somewhere, and at the turn of the New Year, that somewhere is often an area crowded with people celebrating. Not only can these “celebration” shots result in further potential criminal consequences if that bullet harms someone and/or causes property damage, but these “celebration” shots also result in clogged up emergency-response lines, and real emergencies are often put on hold or missed because of calls related to these shots.
Moreover, recent studies have shown that the risk of death from a bullet coming from overhead is far higher than other gunshots because they cause head injuries 80 percent of the time. Victims who are lucky enough to survive often suffer lifelong consequences.
Firing a weapon is clearly NEVER an acceptable form of celebration, and Florida officials ask that you refrain from engaging in, or encouraging, this kind of behavior whenever you witness it. Remember, New Year’s Eve is a time to SAFELY celebrate and enjoy the company of family and friends while ringing in the New Year. At a time like this, it’s especially important to Think Safety First!
◊»~*~*From all of us here at Tripp Law Firm, we wish you and your family a safe and Happy New Year!*~*~«◊
If you or a loved one were injured on New Year’s Eve, whether by a falling bullet, a stray gunshot, a champagne cork, or anything else, call TRIPP LAW FIRM – Personal Injury Law at (727)398-2900 in Pinellas/Pasco County, (863)666-0380 in Polk County, and (407)850-8680 in Orange/Osceola/Seminole County, for an immediate, confidential case evaluation. There is NO Fee and NO Costs if we do not obtain a Recovery for YOU!
At the TRIPP LAW FIRM, we have the necessary experience to protect you and your family’s legal rights and pursue the appropriate damages. Don’t hesitate to call us. We answer our phones 24/7/365. The injury law team and staff private investigators at the TRIPP LAW FIRM are ready on a moment’s notice.
- UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA I.F.A.S. EXTENSION: SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR LIFE, Fireworks Safety (2014), available at http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/families_and_consumers/fireworks_safety.shtml.
- AMERICAN ACADEMY OF OPHTHALMOLOGY, Ophthalmologists Warn: Flying Champagne Corks Cause Serious, Blinding Eye Injuries Each Year (Dec. 19, 2012), available at http://www.aao.org/newsroom/news-releases/detail/ophthalmologists-warn-flying-champagne-corks-cause.
- BAY NEWS 9, Ahead of New Year’s Eve, agencies spreading word about celebratory gunfire (Dec. 30, 2014), available at http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2014/12/30/ahead_of_new_year_s_.html.