Hold your fire: Florida officials remind us what not to do on Fourth of July

No celebratory gunfire, fireworks aren't for children, don't DUI

By Harley Smith - Digital Intern

ORLANDO, Fla. - With the Fourth of July around the corner, police departments across the U.S. work to make sure that people celebrate safely. 

In most places, police issue the typical and very important warnings about illegal fireworks and drinking and driving.  

But Florida's not most places. 

Law enforcement offices in the state annually remind to Floridians that shooting your gun into the air is not an acceptable way to celebrate. 

"There are so many ways to enjoy the July 4th holiday commemorating this nation’s birth, but firing random shots into the air and setting off illegal fireworks should not be among them," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said ahead of the holiday.

Celebratory gunfire can cause serious harm to people and property because there is no way to know where the bullet will land once it's fired. 

The bullets barrel toward the ground at speeds greater than 200 feet per second, which is enough to go through someone's skull, the Miami Herald reported. 

This reckless tradition has caused a number of untimely deaths. One being Corey Baker, a father, who died on New Year's Eve 2007 when a bullet came down on his head.

Injuries and fatalities from shooting into the air are completely preventable. 

Make sure that your firearm is safely locked away during the holiday, especially if you're having guests over and plan on drinking. 

As mentioned, police also urge people to take safety precautions when it comes to driving and fireworks. 

Last Independence Day, 188 people were killed in crashes related to drunken driving in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Celebrate our wonderful nation safely by planning out rides ahead of time. Assign someone to be the sober driver or use a service like Uber or Lyft to get you to and from your Fourth of July destinations. 

Always remember to never let someone get behind the wheel if she or he is impaired. AAA and Budweiser offer a free ride service, Tow to Go, to ensure that you and your loved ones get home safely. 

Tow to Go is is available from Tuesday, July 3, until 6 a.m. on Thursday, July 5. Tow trucks will take you and your vehicle somewhere safe within 10 miles for free.

Next up on the list of things not do this Fourth of July is let children play with fireworks. Children should stand a safe distance away from any fireworks and be taught how to stop, drop and roll in case of an emergency. 

In 2016 U.S. hospitals treated more than 11,000 people for fireworks related injuries, Demings said.

[READ: How do fireworks work?]

It is best to light fireworks with a water hose nearby to put out any small fires. Other tips on how to properly light fireworks can be found here. 

"If you want to set off any fireworks in a residential area ask the seller if the fireworks are approved by the State Fire Marshalls Office -- if they don't know then don't buy them!" said Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly. 

Have a fun, festive and safe holiday. 

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