TAMPA - The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display provided by trained professionals. ABC Action News has Tampa Bay's list of fireworks, food, music, and fun for Independence Day .
Fireworks warnings are about as common during this time of year as the stands that sell them. Yet, last year two people were killed and 9000 people were treated at emergency rooms by fireworks mishaps nationwide.
Injuries ranged from severe burns to loss of limbs.
In addition, more fires are reported in the U.S. on that day than on any other day, and fireworks account for more than half of those fires.
"Every July fourth, thousands of people are injured while using consumer fireworks. Due to the dangers of fireworks, injuries occur every year which include devastating burns, eye injuries, and even death," said St. Petersburg Fire Marshal Robert Bassett.
Citrus Fire Rescue reminds those who want to enjoy fireworks to take proper precautions and have a safe 4th of July weekend.
They suggest buying only legal fireworks, which are generally termed sparklers.
But even sparklers should be used with caution. They burn hot enough to melt gold and can create serious burn injuries.
Citrus Fire Rescue also suggests anytime fireworks are used it should be under adult supervision. Keep a garden hose or bucket with water nearby to put out any hot embers. Light the fireworks on a smooth, non-flammable surface and keep children away from the flames and used fireworks, since the sparkler wires can continue to burn after the sparkler is used up.
Celebratory gunfire is not a good idea, either.
The St. Petersburg Police Department warns that there are criminal consequences and safety hazards of using guns as party favors. Shooting a gun in the city is a crime, and a bullet shot into the air has the potential to cause serious injury and property damage on its way down.
Fireworks that launch or explode are illegal for general resident use in Florida. Even if you sign a waiver for agricultural use, buying illegal fireworks in Florida does not change the liability. Florida's State Fire Marshall has a list of fireworks allowed by law at www.myfloridacfo.com/sfm/sparklerindex.htm
The NFPA recommends not using consumer fireworks at all, and St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue agrees. "The safest way to enjoy the holiday and fireworks is to attend a public display provided by trained professionals," said Fire Marshal Bassett.
Finally, pets should be kept at home and away from fireworks displays. Often the loud booms and pops frighten pets, causing them to dart away, where they can be hit by cars or become lost.
For more information on fireworks safety , visit www.nfpa.org.
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