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Dear Fellow Floridians:

The summer season is synonymous with backyard barbeques, boat trips and sometimes family fireworks displays. Fireworks are a deeply-rooted part of the American tradition, especially when celebrating our nation's freedom on the Fourth of July. This cherished holiday is a time to celebrate our country's freedom and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, but we must keep in mind that a joyful celebration can quickly turn into a painful memory when fireworks are being used improperly.Fireworks in the sky with children watching.

In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 200 people visit the emergency room every day during the 30 days that surround the Fourth of July holiday. That's nearly 7,000 trips to the ER every year for preventable fireworks-related injuries. 

Just last year, fire departments across Florida responded to 141 fireworks-related incidents. I'd like to share with you some basic safety tips that can help prevent your family from becoming part of these statistics. I know you've heard them before, but they bear repeating until we see the injuries' number drop to zero.

  • A responsible adult should always supervise all fireworks-related activities.
  • This includes making sure that fireworks are kept a safe distance away from small children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your celebratory beverages for after the show.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, never close to vehicles or any buildings.
  • Always have a bucket of water and a garden hose close by.
  • Light one firework at a time and then back away from it immediately.
  • If it does not light, never try to relight a dud.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket and never use a bottle or glass to set them off.
  • Douse spent fireworks with water and dispose of them properly, preferably in a metal garbage bin.

It's important that I'm sharing these safety tips with you, but sometimes actions speak louder than words. That's why we're hosting fireworks safety events this week across Florida. From Pensacola to St. Augustine to Tampa and Plantation, we're working with local fire departments and media outlets alike to host demonstrations highlighting just how quickly a good day turns bad when accidents happen. Keep an eye out for a story on your local news.

Our goal is not to take the fun out of this deeply-held American tradition, but instead to help your family celebrate safely this season. There are many ways to safely enjoy this holiday season -- including thousands of sparklers that have been tested and approved for recreational use. I strongly encourage you to select these instead of illegal fireworks that fly or explode. For a complete list of the sparklers that have been tested and approved for your family to enjoy, please visit our website here.

Be safe, not sorry, this summer season. Have fun, enjoy the Florida sun, and consider attending a public fireworks show in your community. Your local leaders work hard to put on these events, and they're a great family-friendly way to celebrate.

Written by :
Jeff Atwater, Chief Financial Officer Sate of Florida 

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