As we approach the holiday weekend, the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC encourages the residents of our community to be aware of the safety risks commonly associated with Fourth of July festivities. As stated by CFO and state Fire Marshall Jeff Atwater:
“Independence Day weekend is a time to celebrate our country’s freedom . . . . but we must be smart and remember that fires and serious injuries can be caused by the improper use of fireworks.”
Over the past five years, the use of fireworks in Florida, has resulted in nearly $2 million in damages. Last year alone, emergency officials responded to 120 fireworks-related incidents throughout the state of Florida, with damages estimated at well over a quarter of a million dollars.
Our Gainesville attorneys offer some important safety tips, to assist in preventing accidents, property damage, and most importantly, injury or death.
Purchase of fireworks
First and foremost, check local ordinances and state laws to determine which fireworks are permissible, which are banned, as well as regulations regarding use. Always purchase fireworks from a licensed vendor, and refrain from purchasing illegal fireworks. Further, be aware of the consequences of signing an ‘agricultural loophole’ waiver, which allows fireworks to be purchased for certain uses, if buyers agree to waiver terms, including exemption from certain laws. In short, such waivers may protect consumers from the illegalities of purchase and possession of fireworks, but do not release persons from criminal or civil liability for improper or illegal use of fireworks!
Basic safety tips
Always have a fire extinguisher available. Make sure that it is functioning properly—AND—that you know how to use it. Also, you should have a hose easily accessible, as well as buckets of water available. Most important of all, be sure that you know basic procedures for extinguishing a fire. There are a number of online resources, and even training courses that offer detailed information on fire safety.
Three key areas should be determined prior to setting off fireworks, including locations for: (1) firework detonation; (2) unused fireworks storage; and (3) persons viewing display (and persons nearby). Consider potential hazards such as trees, bushes, shrubbery, dry grass; building or houses; and anything else flammable or that poses a risk of fire, such as helium tanks, boats, cars, gas propelled devices, storage tanks, etc. Store unused fireworks at a safe distance from the detonation sight. Forewarn others that both the detonation and storage sights are OFF LIMITS!!!
Ensure User Safety
Similar to a designated driver, it is important to designate the person(s) that will set off the fireworks. Fireworks should never be detonated by a person that is impaired or under the influence. In short, alcohol (or drugs) and fireworks are a dangerous combination. Your ‘designated detonator(s),’ should read the instruction beforehand. Also, do not attempt to relight a firework, and never light both ends. Perhaps most importantly—ensure proper direction of firework release.
Ensure safety of others
Take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of intoxicated adults. Maintain continuous supervision over children, particularly young ones, both prior to and during, detonation. Young children may be attracted to the colorful packaging of fireworks—which may contain dangerous chemicals or small parts. Also, small children may run off during detonation, whether towards or away from set-off site. In addition, never give sparklers to young children. Be aware of ‘teen-curiosity,’ and make sure that all fireworks are accounted for and stored out of reach of others. Keep pets indoors.
Make sure that used fireworks have completely cooled prior to disposing of them. However, make sure to dispose of (or move) used fireworks and fragments as soon as safely possible, to avoid the risk of exposure or ingestion by a small child.
On the other hand, the best thing you can do to ensure the safety of you, your loved ones, and persons nearby, is by foregoing personal use, and opting to attend a public fireworks show. Click here to view a list of local displays,
If you or a loved one were injured or sustained property damage as a result of a fireworks-related incident, contact the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC to discuss your legal rights and entitlement to compensation.