TAVARES – The Lake County Public Safety Department asks residents to take proper precautions when celebrating Independence Day at home, and 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.
“On Independence Day, fireworks are the cause of two out of five fires reported in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association,” said John Jolliff, Lake County’s director of public safety and fire chief. “We want residents to have a safe and enjoyable holiday and encourage them to enjoy free professional fireworks shows being hosted by many of our municipalities.”
The following tips will help residents decide if they should include fireworks in their Independence Day celebration:
• Fireworks that emit a loud bang and/or leave the ground are illegal in Florida without a permit from the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Using illegal fireworks is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
• Only devices included in the list of sparklers and other novelty items, approved by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, can be legally used for private celebration purposes in the state.
• Buy items only from reliable and licensed sellers. Any item that does not have a clearly printed manufacturer’s name, address and cautionary labeling is likely to be illegally made, could be very dangerous and should be avoided.
• Adults should always supervise the use of fireworks. 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.
• Always light sparklers one at a time, and never use them in neighborhood backyards or other crowded areas.
Another important aspect of keeping residents safe is to ensure that if 9-1-1 is called to an emergency, first-responders have the most up-to-date information about the household and any specialty needs of its occupants.
“Summer is the perfect time for families to sign up with the county’s Smart 911 program, which allows residents to create free safety profiles consisting of household information that could be pivotal to first-responders during an emergency,” said Gregory Holcomb, Lake County Public Safety Department’s E911 coordinator. “The profiles contain anything from phone numbers, medical conditions and disabilities, to photos of family members and floor plans. The more information that can be provide to emergency responders prior to an emergency, the better.”
Those interested in creating a safety profile can do so by visiting www.smart911.com/smart911/registration/registrationLanding.action. Each safety profile is private and only available to dispatchers during an emergency call.
Pets are also at increased risk during the July Fourth holiday. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed when hearing loud noises, such as fireworks.
“More pets become lost on the Fourth of July than on any other date during the year,” said Brian Sheahan, director of Lake County’s Community Safety & Compliance Department. “Keep pets inside during the festivities, and away from loud, crowded firework displays. Instead, keep them in a quiet and secure area of your home where they cannot easily escape.”
To find out more about local Fourth of July celebrations including fireworks displays, visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/calendar. For information on obtaining a fireworks permit, visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/departments/public_safety/fireworks_permit.aspx.