New Year's Celebration Safety
Fireworks are a popular tradition to celebrate and ring in the new year, but injuries, fires and home insurance claims are also an unfortunate part of this longstanding holiday.
Home insurance coverage
Basic home insurance covers fires. But if those fires are caused by fireworks your family sets off, your policy may not cover you if they are illegal in your area, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
Even if your city allows fireworks, NAIC recommends getting in touch with your home insurance company because your policy may contain restrictions and safety requirements. Keep in mind, if someone else (not a family member) damages your home with fireworks, you're covered whether they're legal or not.
Beautiful and fun, but dangerous
In 2008, fireworks caused about 22,500 fires and $42 million in property damage, and even if you have the right home insurance coverage, setting off fireworks on your property entails risks. Fireworks are designed to shoot hot sparks in every direction and can reach temperatures of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
In addition to putting your home and your neighbors' homes in danger, fireworks can cause serious injuries. In 2008, hospital emergency rooms treated about 7,000 fireworks-related injuries, according to NFPA. About 40 percent of these injuries happened to children under the age of 18.
Protect yourself and your family
If consumer fireworks are legal where you live 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, including sparklers
• Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
• 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.
Make sure that your home is equipped with working smoke alarms on every level, and that everyone in the home knows the sound the alarm makes and what it signifies. Have a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place. Practice the plan with all members of your household both at night and during the day.
Public events are also a big part of New Year’s celebrations. If attending a party at a public venue is part of your New Year’s Eve plans, the State Fire Marshal’s Office urges you to keep the following in mind:
Before you enter
• Take a good look. Does the building appear to be in a condition that makes you feel comfortable? Is the main entrance wide and does it open outward to allow easy exit? Is the outside area clear of materials stored against the building or blocking exits?
• Have a communication plan. Identify a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency and you are separated from family or friends.
• Plan a meeting place. Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends with whom you are attending the function. If there is an emergency, be sure to meet them there.
When you enter
• Locate exits immediately. When you enter a building you should look for all available exits. Some exits may be in front and some in back of you. Be prepared to use your closest exit. You may not be able to use the main exit.
• Check for clear exit paths. Make sure aisles are wide enough and not obstructed by chairs or furniture. Check to make sure your exit door is not blocked or chained. If there are not at least two exits or exit paths are blocked, report the violation to management and leave the building if it is not immediately addressed. Call the local fire marshal to register a complaint.
• Do you feel safe? Does the building appear to be overcrowded? Are there fire sources such as candles burning, cigarettes or cigars burning, pyrotechnics, or other heat sources that may make you feel unsafe? Are there safety systems in place such as alternative exits, sprinklers, and smoke alarms? Ask the management for clarification on your concerns. If you do not feel safe in the building, leave immediately.
During an emergency
• React immediately. Immediately exit the building in an orderly fashion if an alarm sounds or if you see smoke, fire, or other unusual disturbances.
• Get out, stay out! Once you have escaped, stay out. Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. Let trained firefighters conduct rescue operations.
New Year’s celebrations can be an amazing tradition for you and your family, just remember to stay safe and remain alert.
- Wishing everyon a wonderful and happy New Year from all of us at SERVPRO of Park Cities and North Garland.