SARASOTA - Every year, people are taken to hospital emergency rooms across the United States because of injuries from fireworks - usually illegal use of fireworks by individuals.
To stay safe, county fire prevention officials advise that residents go to public fireworks displays that are legally permitted, as well as bigger and brighter.
In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 structure fires, 400 vehicle fires and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage, with no reported fire deaths. The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-19 and adults 25-44, with one-quarter (26 percent) of the victims of fireworks injuries in 2011 under age 15. Children have the highest relative risk of injury; there are no adult age groups with comparable risk.
Chapter 791 of Florida Statutes defines what is illegal - and legal - for use by unqualified consumers. According to the law:
• Anything that explodes or flies through the air is illegal. Examples of fireworks that would be considered illegal for consumer use include firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets and roman candles.
• "Sparklers," as approved by the Florida Division of State Fire Marshal office, are legal and include snake or glow worms, trick noisemakers, party poppers, snappers and sparklers.
Sarasota County fire officials recommend the following when handling sparklers:
• Children should not use sparklers without very close adult supervision.
• Always remain standing while using sparklers.
• Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
• Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.
• Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers.
• Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop the used sparklers directly in a bucket of water.
• Never hand over a lighted sparkler to another person. Give them the unlit sparkler and then light it.
• Do not throw sparklers.
• Never use sparklers indoors or near vehicles.
For more information regarding fireworks and sparkler safety, contact the Sarasota County Fire Prevention Office at 941-861-2290 or visit www.scgov.net.