St. Johns County hosts fireworks safety demo

Nearly 7,000 fireworks-related emergency room visits in Florida each year

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Officials in St. Johns County hosted a live fireworks safety demonstration Tuesday morning ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

The Florida State Fire Marshal's Office, St. Augustine Fire Department and St. Johns County Sheriff's Office worked together for the safety event at Francis Field in downtown St. Augustine.

WATCH DEMO: Facebook Live replay online

There are nearly 7,000 visits to the emergency room for fireworks-related injuries each year during the 30 days surrounding the Fourth of July, according to Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater's office.

During the demonstration in St. Johns County, officials showed just how quickly sparklers can turn dangerous if held too close to a shirt or hair. In only a few minutes, a shirt touched by a sparkler went up in flames.

"I think it's an impact. It's a wow factor that people just don't understand because what's the thing that everybody says, 'Oh, that will never happen to me,'" said city of St. Augustine Fire Marshal Bob Growick. 

IMAGES: Results of fireworks safety demo

Firefighters said the best advice if clothing catches fire is still the old standard: Stop. Drop. And Roll.

They suggested people using sparklers should hold them at an arms length, away from their body, and leave sparkler sticks in water after they've been used, so they don't ignite grass or anything else.

Officials also showed what could happen if an explosive firework is too close to a person by blowing up a watermelon.

VIDEO: Watermelon, cantaloupe blown up | Fire Marshal gives safety advice

“We get hundreds of reports every year across the U.S. of individuals losing fingers, hands, and people getting hit in the face,” said St. Johns County bomb squad detective Justin Anderson. “This is 1.5 grams or less of the explosive. This isn’t even the mortar size you can buy at the local fireworks places.”

In Duval County, anything that explodes in the sky, or can be launched like a rocket, is illegal. In St. Johns County, there's a loophole where customers are allowed to buy fireworks as long as they sign a waiver. In the fine print, it states the buyer intends to use the fireworks for an approved purpose.

Officials said many people end up just using fireworks for fun, but Growick said people need to decide if it's worth it. 

"Do I really want to go buy those? Or do I want to just leave that stuff behind me because I care about my family?" Growick said.

Officials encourage people to attend and enjoy organized fireworks displays. There are two scheduled in St. Johns County surrounding the Fourth of July holiday.

The live fireworks demonstration displayed the dangers that can arise when fireworks are not properly used. 

2014 Fireworks Injuries by Type and Body Part | Graphiq