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Gallagher Advises Floridians to Celebrate Safely

6/25/2003

CONTACT: Justin Glover
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE—During the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, thousands of Floridians will gather in back yards or at the beaches to celebrate. For many, fireworks are part of the fun, but State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher warns that most fireworks should be left to professionals.

"Nearly 10,000 Americans were injured by fireworks in 2001, and more than half of those were children," Gallagher said. "Use extreme caution this holiday weekend as you celebrate with your friends and family."

Florida law allows general consumers to use sparklers, and every year the State Fire Marshal's Office approves new sparklers and novelty items that are safe and legal for Floridians to use. More than 140 new products were approved in 2002, bringing the total number of items approved for general consumer use to more than 1,300. The complete list is available online at www.fldfs.com/sfm.

Determining which products are legal can be a key to safety this holiday season. "If it launches or explodes, it's illegal," Gallagher said. Illegal fireworks include shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, rockets and firecrackers. Floridians should not sign "waivers" in order to purchase fireworks. "A waiver will not clear you of responsibility should you be caught using them," Gallagher said.

Even if you are using 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 more than 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter.

Take the following precautions to celebrate safely:


· 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 fireworks.

· 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.

Gallagher also reminded Floridians to check the batteries in their smoke detectors.