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New fireworks law impacts public safety

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 23:00:31-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A new bill signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis now allows people to legally use fireworks on the 4th of July.

Under the old law, people in Florida could only buy fireworks if they signed a waiver saying the fireworks were only going to be used in agricultural zones for scaring birds.

The new law allows you to shoot off fireworks without the waiver on July 4th, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many large, annual fireworks shows have been canceled this year and local officials want to remind people of the dangers that come with setting off personal fireworks.

“Nearly 50% of the injuries caused by fireworks are burns," says Lt. Jennifer Truman, Charlotte County Fire, "And the majority of the injuries tend to be to people's heads, their hands, fingers those type of areas.”

Lt. Truman further warns of the dangers of even small, often innocent-looking sparklers.

“Sparklers can be up to 1200 degrees, six times the temperature of boiling water and we all know how dangerous that is.”

Syndi Bultman, Injury Prevention Resource Coordinator of Lee Health, says she anticipates the new law will cause more firework-related injuries than in previous years on the 4th of July.

Bultman believes more injuries could be a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They been kinda cooped up, they’re frustrated, they’re bored they want to get out and have a good time.”

To prevent people from injuring themselves, there are safety steps Bultman wants people to follow.

“They should eye protection when they are doing it, should not be under the influence of anything. Make sure they have a bucket of water and hose nearby. Buy reputable fireworks, read the instructions, and store them in a nice cool place."

For fire safety, Truman asks people to be aware of their surroundings.

“We are a little bit drier right now so the potential for grass fires and brush fires is kind of high. We always want people to be cautious of the fact that those could occur.”

Officials also want people to consider neighbors and other people in your area when shooting off fireworks this 4th of July.

“People may be suffering from PTSD, and if we have our entire neighborhood firing off these professional fireworks that could bring some flashbacks for them," said Bultman.

In southwest Florida, local officials say this legislation does not supersede city regulations for using fireworks and Marco Island currently does not allow the use of fireworks.