Summer’s biggest party kicks off this weekend, with Fourth of July parties, cookouts, barbecues and – most importantly – fireworks.
Nationwide, about 230 people arrive in emergency rooms every day in July, a result of injuries from personal pyrotechnics, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
But injuries are not the only potential danger with fireworks. Since January, approximately 1,800 wildfires across Florida have burned more than 38,000 acres.
For July 4, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service, part of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, encourage Floridians to use fireworks properly while celebrating American independence. The Forest Service manages over one million acres of public forest land while protecting 26 million homes.
“Despite recent rainfall, the drought index in much of Florida has remained relatively high,” Putnam says in a statement. “As we celebrate the birth of our great nation, it is critical that Floridians use fireworks safely and responsibly.”
Putnam asks celebrants to always check local laws before using fireworks. Local fire and police departments and the State Fire Marshal’s Office also provide guidance on safety.
Officials offer these Top Ten safety tips for using fireworks this weekend and beyond:
- Follow all county and/or city fireworks laws.
- Light fireworks on a cleared area free of any vegetation or dry debris.
- Remove debris from any location where fireworks could land.
- Always have a water source available in case of a fire.
- Aim fireworks away from people, homes and wooded areas.
- Do not allow young children to light or handle fireworks.
- Never use homemade fireworks.
- Discard used fireworks in a bucket of water.
- Store unused fireworks, matches and lighters out of the sight and reach of children.
- Report any fires immediately to 9-1-1.
“The potential for wildfire is always heightened when fire and sparks are present outdoors. Always be careful, especially this Fourth of July, when using fireworks near brush or forested areas,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester.
One of the most popular July 4 fireworks with children is sparklers. While they are legal in most places in Florida, parents are reminded sparklers can be dangerous, especially for smaller children, since they can reach temperatures up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. That is why manufacturers recommended only those over 12 years of age use sparklers, and adult supervision is necessary at all times, regardless of age.