July 4th is a time of celebration; backyard grilling, neighborhood gatherings, and fireworks displays. Unfortunately, July is also peak month for grill fires, and every year an estimated 11,000 people are treated for injuries related to fireworks. Also, more pets go missing on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year! As you prepare to celebrate, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind you to take the following precautions to keep you, your family, your pets, and neighborhoods safe.
Fireworks Safety: Verify local ordinances before purchasing and/or using fireworks. Store in a cool, dry place, away from children and pets. Read directions before use, and always have a bucket of water and a hose handy. Never attempt to re-light fireworks.
Pet Safety: More pets get lost on July 4th than any other day of the year. Exercise your furry friends before the festivities and keep them inside as much as possible. If you need to take them out, ensure they have a tag with your contact information. Lastly, common Fourth of July items such as alcoholic beverages, citronella candles, and glow sticks can be toxic to pets and should be stowed out of their reach.
Grilling Safety: Keep the grill out in the open and far away from anything that could catch fire: the house, deck, tree branches. Be sure to use long-handled tools especially made for grilling to keep the chef safe. Make sure children and pets stay far away from the grill, and always supervise the grill when in use.
Before you buy from the roadside vendors, you may want to review the laws in Florida pertaining to fireworks. Just because they are being sold does not mean it’s legal to buy, possess, or use them.
Florida law prohibits any fireworks for recreational use that fly through the air or explode — such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars. Unless you have a permit, legal fireworks in Florida are those classified as “sparklers”, commonly called sparklers, fountains, snakes or glow worms.
Roadside vendors selling illegal fireworks without a permit do so by manipulating a loophole in the law that allows them to sell the fireworks for authorized uses. When you purchase the illegal fireworks, the vendor requires you to sign a waiver stating you intend to use the fireworks for use on your farm or fish hatchery to scare off birds and animals. This practice lets the vendor off the hook. If the fireworks are not used for the purpose stated on the waiver, you are breaking the law.
It is a misdemeanor in Florida to use illegal fireworks. If you’re not sure whether a particular firework is approved for consumer use, the Florida Fire Marshal publishes a full list of legal sparklers each year and you can review Florida State Statue, Chapter 791.
Have a happy and safe 4th of July holiday!