As Floridians get ready to celebrate our nation's independence, Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is offering safety tips for the first Fourth of July when it will be legal to set off fireworks.
That's thanks to a new state law allowing the purchase of items like bottle rockets and other things that go beyond sparklers on three dates a year: July 4th, December 31st and January 1st.
Because of the new law and the fact that most public fireworks celebrations around the state have been canceled due to social distancing concerns, authorities think there will be more fireworks-related injuries this year.
According to Patronis, every year, fireworks start approximately 19,500 fires and cause around $105 million in direct property damage nationwide.
The CFO and Fire Marshal said, “As our nation continues to deal with the effects of COVID-19 and more and more people will be celebrating Fourth of July in the comfort of their own home, it is extremely important for Floridians to be cognizant and always use simple safety tips when handling fireworks. My top priority is to ensure that all Floridians avoid accidents and celebrate the holiday safely.”
Six Fireworks Safety Tips
1. Light one firework/sparkler at a time and never relight a dud - If too many fireworks are lit at one time, it can cause confusion about which ones are active, leading to possible injury or fire. Duds can malfunction and explode improperly if you try to relight them. It is best to douse them with water to ensure they are fully extinguished.
2. Beware of allowing young children to play with sparklers - Fireworks or sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1200 degrees, which can cause third degree burns. For a fun and flame-free way to light up the night, consider picking up a few glow sticks for young kids to play with.
3. Be mindful of your neighbors and pets - It’s important to be cognizant of your neighbors and surroundings when using fireworks. Some individuals in your community may suffer from PTSD including first responders and veterans, and fireworks could cause their symptoms to flare-up. Also, remember to keep pets indoors as they may be distressed when fireworks are launched, increasing the risk they will run loose or get injured. Pets should be kept inside and as far away as possible from fireworks.
4. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby - Be careful of how you dispose of fireworks and sparklers and make sure you always have a fire extinguisher or water hose on hand. Once fireworks have stopped working, they are still extremely hot and need to be cooled off with water or a fire extinguisher so they can be disposed of properly.
5. Only purchase approved sparklers - Per Florida Statute, the State Fire Marshal’s Office maintains an annual list of approved sparklers that have been tested and found to meet the requirements for sparklers. Sparklers should only be used under close adult supervision.
Tip 6 is typically "Let the professionals handle the fireworks," but with COVID-19 canceling most of the fireworks celebrations around the state, there may be some conducted on a virtual-basis.
For example, the Village of Wellington is planning two fireworks shows at Village Park and Wellington Green Park, but parking lots at both parks will be closed due to the spike in coronavirus cases in Palm Beach County.
Parking is available at the Mall at Wellington Green and folks can watch the fireworks show from their cars, beginning at 9:15 p.m.
The city of West Palm Beach has canceled it's "4th on Flagler" event this year, but officials say fireworks will be set off from two undisclosed locations and residents should be able to see the fireworks from their yards.
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