Playing with Fire


Two things that still puzzle me about life in America are: first, that bikers are not required to wear helmets by law, and second, that fireworks are sold without any restrictions during New Years and the 4th of July celebrations.

I have to admit that it still surprises me when I visit the supermarket and I am welcomed with shelves full of sparklers and other pyrotechnics at arm’s reach.

Although I grew up in Colombia in the 80’s, watching fireworks light up the sky every New Year’s Eve in the streets of my neighborhood, these displays have been forbidden since 1995 unless performed by professionals.

That same year, the Ministry of Health prohibited the fabrication of explosive and detonating fireworks and their sale to underage children and people under the influence of alcohol.

Before the new regulation took effect, I remember vividly that we used to burn the Año Viejo, which was a handmade doll stuffed with fireworks, that represented the ending year. Thinking back, it was an accident waiting to happen.

In conjunction with the ban, official entities have promoted annual campaigns in the press and on social media for fifteen years. These campaigns start at the beginning of the Christmas season, with the sole purpose of informing people about the dangers of fireworks.

However, despite these government and community efforts, hundreds of people end up in the emergency rooms every year.

According to the most recent report published by the Colombian National Institute of Health more than 800 people were injured by fireworks between December 2018 and the first week of January 2019. Of those injured, 36.7% were under the age of 18. No deaths reported.

Now, have you ever read about the stats in America? I bet you haven’t. Insurance Journal’s most recent data from 2017 (the 2018 numbers are still preliminary) reported eight deaths and 12,900 injuries. 36% of those injured were younger than 15 years of age.

The deadly victims included a four-year-old girl in Wisconsin, an eleven-year-old boy in Kansas, and adults in Florida, Illinois, Maine, Hawaii, Kentucky, and Missouri.

The 4th of July represents 85% of the cases. Eleven thousand of the 13,000 firework-related injuries each year, occur around the Independence Day holiday starting in mid-June until mid-July. Males of all ages report 70% of all injured population across the country.

Although the Colombian and American stats are highly different based on population density, the percentage of injured children under age is the same. This proves that with or without restrictions, kids and adolescents pay the price for the negligence of their parents who allow them to play with fireworks without supervision.

The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) estimated $900 million in sales revenue for 2017. Therefore, all states in the union want a piece of the pie and allow consumer fireworks. The only state that bans fireworks is Massachusetts. Ohio and Illinois have some restrictions.

I have lived in the U.S. for almost fourteen years and I have never seen a pamphlet or social media prevention campaign. Fireworks are a hazard in the novice and children’s hands and should be regulated.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Xiomara Spadafora

This column was sponsored by Zellner Insurance Agency. Many things in life don’t have insurance. For everything else call Zellner (888) 208-8119

2 Replies to “Playing with Fire”

  1. Xio,
    Fantastic writing !!
    I love getting your articles each month. Thank you so much by giving a truthful and verifiable report of the facts you uncover. It is so refreshing!!


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