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Floridians Urged to Celebrate July 4 Safely, Legally


CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE-Florida's Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher is urging Floridians to think about safety as they make plans to celebrate the Fourth of July. He also is encouraging local law enforcement officials to enforce the state's fireworks laws.

"Every year, thousands of Americans are killed or critically injured by fireworks, and more than half of those are typically children," Gallagher said. "For that reason, fireworks are illegal to use without a permit. If it launches or explodes, it is off limits."

Gallagher instead is encouraging Floridians to attend a professional fireworks display or enjoy any of the hundreds of legal sparklers listed on the State Fire Marshal's web site at

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. Using fireworks illegally is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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 at least 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter. Follow these 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 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.

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