How to stay safe while setting off fireworks

Tips to avoid fires, injuries

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

The Fourth of July holiday means thousands of people from coast to coast will be celebrating the country's independence by lighting up the skies with fireworks.

These displays are fun and beautiful, but could be dangerous if they're not properly executed.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that 11,900 people visited the emergency room for fireworks-related injuries in 2015 and fireworks are responsible for an average of 18,500 fires per year.

Experts strongly suggest visiting a public display, such as Fireworks at the Fountain at Lake Eola on Tuesday night, hosted by News 6. Click here for a guide to that event.

If your holiday wouldn't be complete without some at-home firecrackers and sparklers, follow the tips below from the National Council on Fireworks Safety and the Florida State Fire Marshal's Office.

- Before using anything that sparks, find out if your area is under a burn ban. Nearly half of the fires started on July 4 are from fireworks, according to the Florida Forest Service. A map of counties under burn bans is available here.

- Children should not be permitted to handle fireworks, not even sparklers. The tip of a sparkler can reach between 1,300 and 1,800 degrees and sparklers are responsible for nearly 25 percent of all fireworks-related hospital visits, according to the NFPA.

- The person who is lighting the fireworks should not be consuming alcohol and should wear safety glasses.

- Fireworks should only be lit one at a time, outdoors, in a clear area. "Fireworks should be used only on sand, concrete or another non-flammable surface, away from brush, trash or other objects that could catch fire," the state fire marshal says.

- Do not try to re-light "dud" fireworks. Wait 20 minutes and then soak them in water. Spent fireworks should be wet down and placed in a metal trash can away from any combustible materials.

- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them from glass or metal containers.

 

- Keep a fire extinguisher, a hose or a bucket of water nearby.

- Pets should be kept inside in an interior room while fireworks are in use. Read more tips on how to keep pets safe here.

- Do not experiment with homemade or illegal fireworks. "Many dangerous and illegal fireworks, rockets and explosive devices are readily available for purchase," the state fire marshal says. "By Florida law, these are unlawful for private fireworks displays and are significantly more likely to cause fires." Click here for the full list of state-approved fireworks.

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