Independence Day Safety: Focus on “fire” in fireworks
Buying fireworks this week to scare off a flock of egrets grazing in your yard? (Wink, wink) Sure you are — because to buy exploding or flying fireworks just to shoot off in the street on Independence Day is illegal, according to Florida’s fireworks law. Yet, there’s a loophole in Florida law as big as one of those roadside tents run by fireworks vendors; sellers of pyrotechnics get customers to sign a form saying they are using the fireworks to scare off wildlife. Illegal or not, chances are thousands of dollars in fireworks will be going up in smoke in your neighborhood this weekend. Think about the fire and injury risk beforehand, plus your liability, by reviewing fireworks safety tips before you light a match.
More fires are reported on July 4th than any other day of the year, and two out of every five fires are blamed on fireworks. Last year, Florida firefighters responded to nearly 200 incidents. For 2013, the National Fire Protection Association estimated that nationally 11,400 people visited emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries. Even sparklers are dangerous, especially for young children.
The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) has a fireworks enforcement brochure that shows which items are prohibited from retail sales, and it’s very clear that these very same items are what many people buy. And, DFS notes that signing a waiver when purchasing illegal fireworks will not clear you of responsibility if caught red-handed (pun intended).
The safe, and smart, thing to do is to attend a professionally-staged public fireworks display. For those intent on burning up hand-earned money on things that go boom, at least have someone keeping an eye on the kids, and have a hose and water bucket ready.