Volume 3 Number 26
June 26, 2006

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GALLAGHER URGES FLORIDIANS TO CELEBRATE SAFELY

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher is urging Floridians to think about fire safety as they make their Fourth of July plans. In Florida, only sparklers are legal for the general public to use without a permit, so Gallagher said citizens who want to see fireworks should attend a professional show.

“The Fourth of July is a great time for families and friends to relax together and reflect on the freedoms we all enjoy,” Gallagher said. “But fireworks can be dangerous, especially to children, and for that reason items that launch or explode are illegal in Florida.”

For a list of hundreds of sparklers that are legal to use in Florida, as well as safety tips, visit the State Fire Marshal’s web site at www.MyFloridaCFO.com/sfm/.

Illegal fireworks include shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, rockets and firecrackers. Floridians should not sign “waivers” in order to purchase fireworks. Signing a waiver will not clear you of responsibility should you be caught using them, and using fireworks illegally is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you cause a fire or damage someone’s property, you could also be held personally liable.

Even with legal sparklers there is still a risk of injury. When lit, some sparklers can reach temperatures between 1,300 and 1,800 degrees, which is at least 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter.

Illegal fireworks aren’t the only fire hazard facing Floridians looking to celebrate this weekend. Gallagher said grills and camp fires also can pose real risks.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that each year about 30 people die and 100 people are injured as a result of charcoal and gas grill fires, explosions and misuse. Many of these fires and explosions occur when consumers first use a grill that has been left idle for a period of time or just after refilling and reattaching the grill's gas container.

State Fire Marshal Gallagher advises Floridians to follow these precautions to celebrate safely:

Sparklers

Use sparklers and other legal novelties on a flat, hard surface. Do not light them on grass.
Use sparklers in an open area. Keep children and pets at least 30 feet away from all ignited sparklers.
Light only one item at a time and never attempt to re-light a “dud.”
Don’t use any unwrapped items or items that may have been tampered with.
Keep a fire extinguisher or water hose on-hand for emergencies. It’s a good idea to drop used sparklers in a bucket of water.

Grills

Check the tubes that lead into the gas burner for any blockage from insects, spiders, or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage.
Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer's instructions, if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the LP gas container. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don't attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.
Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, leaks or sharp bends.
Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.
Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building.
Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.

NOTE: Gallagher also reminds Floridians to check the batteries in their smoke detectors.