JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, local fire crews are warning of the dangers of consumer fireworks. According to Gainesville Fire Rescue, approximately 9.600 people are treated for injuries related to fireworks each year. Of those injuries, 34 percent are to the eyes or face and 26 percent involve children under the age of 15. Sparklers, fountains and novelties alone accounted for 34 percent of the emergency room fireworks injuries in 2011. To put it into perspective, a sparkler can get as hot as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Compare that to water boiling at 212 degrees and the melting point of glass at 900 degrees.
National Fire Protection Association says more fires are reported on the Fourth of July than on any other day, and fireworks are the cause of half of those fires. In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 structures, 400 vehicles, and 16,300 outside and other fires. In total, these fires resulted in an estimated $32 million in direct property damage.
According to Gainesville Fire Rescue, in Florida there is no such thing as a legal firework. If it leaves the ground and makes a boom, it's not allowed to be used by consumers. Only sparklers and novelties are permissible. GFR says Florida law allows anyone over 18 to purchase fireworks by signing a waiver, where the customer agrees to use the purchase under an exemption. The exemption: using fireworks to scare off animals from farms or fish hatcheries. By signing the waiver it still does not clear the consumer of their responsibility should they be caught illegally using the fireworks, it is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Gainesville Fire Rescue says there are ways to stay safe when it comes to the Fourth of July. They suggest leaving fireworks to the professionals by attending a public show. They also say, never pick up a leftover firework because it may still be active.