So associated with our country that our National Anthem is often misinterpreted to include them, fireworks are a part of most Independence Day celebrations. Though the “rockets’ red glare” refers to shells and bombs rather than fireworks, they are still considered a very American way to observe our nation’s birthday. But that does not make them safe or even legal.
From 2007 to 2009 there were 20 reported deaths and 25,600 reported injuries attributed to fireworks nationwide. Burn injuries, loss of limbs and other catastrophic injuries can occur and many injuries can be fatal. Fireworks are also known causes of forest and brush fires, which is particularly dangerous under current drought conditions.
Aside from safety concerns, Florida Today reports Florida state law bans the use of fireworks, with few exceptions, which are defined as shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers or other explosives that travel through the air. This law is generally unenforced due to economic constraints, so many citizens believe fireworks are only banned during a drought. The sale is commonplace, despite the $1000 fine and up to a year in jail penalty for the misdemeanor.
There are some fireworks-like products that are not banned by the state. Called sparklers rather than fireworks, these do not leave the ground and do not contain explosives. The state fire marshal’s website offers a complete list of these legal alternatives. When using sparklers, make sure children are supervised, water is handy and wear closed-toed shoes.
Another alternative to putting on your own show would be to visit your local city’s display.
Bayfront Park, Sarasota – 9:00 pm
Channelside Bay Plaza, Tampa – 9:00 pm
Largo Central Park, Largo – 9:00 pm
The Pier, St. Petersburg – 9:00 pm