JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the Fourth of July upon us, doctors, police officers and firefighters are once again warning about the dangers of backyard fireworks.
The dangers are real. In Utah, fireworks were to blame for massive wildfire. In Ohio, they were to blame for another fire that led to a man’s death and left four others injured.
“We are pretty dry. It’s our fire season and brush will catch on fire,” said Captain Eric Prosswimmer with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue. “Last thing you want to do is catch your house, your neighbor’s house or your woods on fire.”
Prosswimmer is urging people to be extra careful, knowing more families will be doing home displays because of the pandemic.
“Kids tend to flock to fireworks,” he said. “I, as an adult, can be setting off fireworks but the kids keep getting closer and closer and closer.”
Prosswimmer pointed out that sparklers can burn up to 2,000 degrees and are among the most common injuries for children on July 4.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 900 emergency department-treated injuries in the U.S. associated with sparklers in 2019.
The CPSC also said in 2019, children under the age of 15 accounted for 36% of the estimated fireworks-related injuries. It found the parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers -- an estimated 30%.
Prosswimmer said adult supervision is key and that fireworks need to be set off in a safe space.
In 2020, there’s a new factor in the mix -- all that hand sanitizer we’re using on our hands. It contains alcohol and it’s highly flammable.
At Phantom Fireworks in St. Johns County, sales are skyrocketing. Nationwide, some stores are estimating they’re double or triple past years.
Police are reminding everyone in Northeast Florida to follow the rules, noting that many of those fireworks seen in the sky are against the law.
“Anything that basically explodes or leaves the ground is illegal in Neptune Beach and is subject to seizure or a $50 fine,” said Commander Michael Key with the Neptune Beach Police Department.
Jimmy Patronis, the state fire marshal, released these fireworks safety guidelines.
1. Light one firework/sparkler at a time and never relight a dud – If too many fireworks are lit at one time, it can cause confusion about which ones are active, leading to possible injury or fire. Duds can malfunction and explode improperly if you try to relight them. It is best to douse them with water to ensure they are fully extinguished.
2. Beware of allowing young children to play with sparklers – Fireworks or sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1200 degrees, which can cause third degree burns. For a fun and flame-free way to light up the night, consider picking up a few glow sticks for young kids to play with.
3. Be mindful of your neighbors and pets – It’s important to be cognizant of your neighbors and surroundings when using fireworks. Some individuals in your community may suffer from PTSD including first responders and veterans, and fireworks could cause their symptoms to flare-up. Also, remember to keep pets indoors as they may be distressed when fireworks are launched, increasing the risk they will run loose or get injured. Pets should be kept inside and as far away as possible from fireworks.
4. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby – Be careful of how you dispose of fireworks and sparklers and make sure you always have a fire extinguisher or water hose on hand. Once fireworks have stopped working, they are still extremely hot and need to be cooled off with water or a fire extinguisher so they can be disposed of properly.
5. Only purchase approved sparklers – Per Florida Statute, the State Fire Marshal’s Office maintains an annual list of approved sparklers that have been tested and found to meet the requirements for sparklers. Sparklers should only be used under close adult supervision.
6. Consider attending a professional fireworks show – The best opportunity to protect yourself and your family from fireworks injuries is to let a trained professional handle the fireworks. Professional fireworks shows may be impacted by COVID-19 guidelines. Be sure to check with local authorities for availability and safety recommendations in your area.