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Gallagher Reminds Citizens to Celebrate Safely over Upcoming Holiday


TALLAHASSEE – With the Fourth of July holiday only a week away, Florida Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher reminds Florida citizens to plan carefully and celebrate safely.

"It can take only a few seconds for a tragedy to occur," Gallagher said. "It is incumbent upon us all to do our part to keep our families and neighborhoods safe."

This year, Gallagher warns, it's not just barbecue grills and sparklers that could pose a danger, but also lightning. Strikes this year have already caused numerous wildfires and injuries, a grim reminder that Florida is the nation's Lightning Capital.

It is recommended that if it takes less than 30 seconds to hear thunder after seeing lightning, it's time to move indoors and stay there for at least 30 minutes.

Good advice to keep in mind since, come Wednesday, July 4, many of us will spend the day in our back yards, barbecuing and maybe watching fireworks while we eat our hamburgers and hotdogs.

In Florida, fireworks that launch or explode are illegal for most citizens. But there are hundreds of legal sparklers to choose from, such as the Bermuda Triangle and the Bonnie and Clyde. For a full list, visit the Department of Insurance's web site at . Just follow the prompts for the State Fire Marshal's Office.

The Office of State Fire Marshal every year tests manufactured sparklers for safety and reliability to help guide Floridians in what they buy.

Here are some other safety tips to keep in mind:

Use sparklers and other legal novelties on a flat, hard surface. Do not light them on grass.

Use in an open area. Keep children and pets at least 30 feet from fireworks.

Light only one item at a time.

Never attempt to re-light a "dud."

Do not use any items that are not wrapped or may have been tampered with.

Have water close by. Have a fire extinguisher, hose or bucket of water handy for emergencies. Drop used sparklers in the bucket of water.