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Gallagher Urges Floridians to Celebrate Safely

6/30/2006

CONTACT:  Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842 
         
TALLAHASSEE—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 for general public use 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.fldfs.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. 
 
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 - at least 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter. 
 
Gallagher advises Floridians to 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.