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Firework safety precautions for your July 4th celebrations

Austin Ball via Flickr creative commons

Fourth of July fireworks add sparks of excitement to Independence Day festivities. With the holiday coming up next Monday, Southwest Florida residents should consider firework safety for their celebrations.

The Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District points out that even though residents feel they know firework safety, July 4 is still one of the most dangerous holidays in the United States.

“A lot of times with fireworks, the biggest danger is the lack of supervision or the assumption that because you buy them over the counter, they're safe. So we see a lot of young children go to the emergency room with burns," said the district's Public Relations Officer Katie Heck.

For instance, sparklers can burn at temperatures near 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit -- hot enough to burn some metals. Last year’s holiday accounted for 1,100 Americans going to the emergency room due to sparkler related burns, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's 2021 Fireworks Annual Report.

“Fireworks can be tricky. They're lighting the sparks, sometimes they misfire, sometimes they don't explode the way we expect them to, and people are caught off guard and that leads to injuries,” said Heck.

“We can see anything from fireworks that have gone off into trees or houses or lighting nearby flammable materials and catching that on fire, so you could have like a mulch fire or brush fire or potentially catching your house on fire,” said Naples Fire-Rescue Department Fire marshal Kyle Rambosk.

Recommended safety tips from the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District are to never use homemade fireworks and to light fireworks away from people, homes, and wooded areas. It’s advised to set off fireworks in an area, cleared from vegetation or dry debris, and to remove debris from locations where fireworks could land.

It’s important to discard used fireworks in a bucket of water, to always have a water source available, and to call 911 if a fire starts. Local fire departments receive an increase in fire calls on this holiday.

“If you're going to use fireworks at home, the biggest things that we recommend is making sure that children are supervised at all times, that you have water available so you can put out small fires if one of the fireworks were to start a fire in your yard, and then maybe just choosing safer alternatives to fireworks,” said Heck.

Safe alternatives include glowsticks, diet coke rockets, confetti balloons, colored bubbles, and silly string. After the holiday, it’s advised that fireworks, matches, and lighters be stored out of sight and out of reach of children.

Another way to avoid injury from fireworks is to let the professionals handle it. “We recommend that you go to a professional fireworks display. Take your family out and set up at one of your local community displays,” said Heck.

Firework shows are being organized all around Southwest Florida. Safety at the events is foremost in the minds of the professionals. For instance, Rambosk has set perimeters for both land and sea for the Naples Pier fireworks show at 9 p.m. on July 4. The fireworks will be launched from a barge in the gulf at least 1,000 feet from the beach.

“Our main issues that we have are the people that like to take their boats out and watch the fireworks. So we have to maintain a safe perimeter around the fireworks in case, there's anything that happens,” said Rambosk.

Local firework displays can be viewed safely at the following locations:

Punta Gorda is hosting Freedom-Fest at Laishley Park, where fireworks will start at 9 p.m. There will also be fireworks at 9 p.m. at Independence Holiday Celebration at Fishermen’s Village.

The City of Sanibel is hosting Red, Wild, and Blue which will have a fireworks display.

Cape Coral is hosting Red, White, and Boom, located on Cape Coral Parkway at the foot of Cape Coral Bridge from 5 - 10 p.m.

Downtown Fort Myers is hosting Freedom Fest, where fireworks will be launched around 9 p.m. in the Caloosahatchee River. Fort Myers Beach will have fireworks at Times Square also around 9 p.m.

Lehigh Acres is hosting Freedom Fest at Victory Town Center from 5 - 10 p.m.

Bonita Springs is hosting Star Spangled Bonita from 6 - 9 p.m. which will feature fireworks.

Naples is hosting a firework show around 9 p.m. on a barge north of the Naples Pier. There will also be a display at Sugden Regional Park around 9 p.m.

Marco Island will be launching fireworks around 9 p.m. from Residents Beach.

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