As the Fourth of July approaches, thousands of people nationwide will wind up in emergency departments with fireworks-related injuries, especially during the week surrounding Independence Day.
According to Florida Forest Service statistics, 1,263 wildfires have also burned more than 62,000 acres across Florida since Jan. 1.
Every year, the FFS reminds the public of guidelines for the safe and responsible use of fireworks and fire while celebrating.
“Although we have had a wet summer in some parts of the state, the potential for wildfire still exists, especially in South Florida,” said Florida State Forester Jim Karels. “Please be careful when you use fireworks near brush or trees outdoors.”
Anyone using fireworks should always check with local laws first. Florida Fire Marshal’s Office, as well as local fire and police departments, can also provide guidance.
If you are lighting fireworks, follow these top ten safety tips:
- Observe all fireworks laws for your county or city
- Light fireworks on a cleared area, one that is free of any vegetation or debris
- Remove any debris from roofs or decks 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 safely in a bucket of water.
- Store unused fireworks and lighters out of the reach of children
- Report any fires to 911 immediately
For maximum safety, children under the age of 15 should not use fireworks. Of 9,800 fireworks-related injuries reported in 2007 to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, nearly half were kids.
The Florida Forest Service manages 1 million acres of public forestland, and protects more than 26 million acres of homes, forestland, and natural resources from the effects of wildfire.
For statewide wildfire updates and additional wildfire information, visit www.floridaforestservice.com. For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.