TAVARES — The Lake County Department of Public Safety, Fire Rescue Division, is urging residents not to potentially spoil their Fourth of July celebration by using illegal fireworks, which too frequently lead to fires and severe personal injuries.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, more U.S. fires are reported on Independence Day than any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires. Nearly 7,000 Americans were treated in emergency rooms in 2008, and fireworks caused an estimated 22,500 reported fires. Two out of every five people injured by fireworks were under the age of 15.
“Safe and sane” fireworks are neither. Fireworks and sparklers are designed to explode or throw off showers of hot sparks. Temperatures may exceed 1,200 degrees. Ninety-two percent of the fireworks injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involved fireworks that federal regulations permit consumers to use.
The following tips will help you decide if you should include fireworks in your Independence Day celebration:
- The best practice is to attend only professional public fireworks displays. These public displays require a fireworks permit issued by the Fire Marshal's Office.
- Private celebrations that use fireworks that emit a loud bang and/or leave the ground are illegal in Florida. Using illegal fireworks is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- Sparklers are devices, which emit showers of sparks, are hand-held or ground based, cannot propel themselves through the air, and are approved by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Only devices included in the list of sparklers and other novelty items approved by the State Fire Marshal’s Office can be legally purchased and used for private celebration purposes in the state.
- Buy sparklers only from reliable and licensed sellers. Any sparkler that does not have a clearly printed manufacturer’s name, address and cautionary labeling is very likely to be illegally made and very dangerous. Avoid these devices.
- Adults should always supervise the use of sparklers. Always read and follow label directions.
- Sparks and smoldering embers from sparklers can start fires. Light them only in a large open outdoor space on a hard level surface well away from anything combustible. Have a fire extinguisher, filled water buckets or a charged water hose nearby and ready for emergencies.
- Never use sparklers in neighborhood backyards or other crowded areas.
- Always light sparklers one at a time.
For more information on the approved list of sparklers, log on to www.myfloridacfo.com/SFM/sparklerindex.htm.