GFR urges July Fourth safety tips

Gainesville Fire Rescue (GFR) recommends the safest way to celebrate Independence Day is to watch a community Fourth of July show rather than purchasing consumer fireworks. 

“It’s a very festive time, a great time to celebrate and just really so much to be thankful for and to enjoy,” said GFR Capt. Conrade Irving, Gainesville Fire Rescue in an interview with Larry Wilson on 106.9 I Am Country. “The recommendation from Gainesville Fire Rescue, though, is that our community neighbors would just take the opportunity to go to a community show and just leave the fireworks to the professionals.”

Over the past 12 months, GFR has responded to six fireworks-related calls that included one significant head injury and three unintentionally started fires, according to a press release. 

“A lot of times people take a lot of safety efforts and measures, but yet we’re still getting a large number of injuries and a lot of those injuries are coming to children and teens, which are avoidable,” Irving said. 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated 11,500 people were seen for fireworks-related injuries—including nine fatalities—at hospital emergency departments in 2021. In an average year, hospitals will treat around 9,100 fireworks injuries, with most occurring around July 4th.

“We do have a lot of [commercial] vendors and so there are some neighbors that have chosen to take the personal responsibility on themselves, and so some of the things that we really hope that they will put into place is never allow young children to play or ignite fireworks,” Irving said. “We want to emphasize that alcohol and fireworks do not mix, contrary to what some people may think, you know, and only purchase fireworks from a licensed vendor.”

Even sparklers present a safety risk, he said. 

“Also if they’re using sparklers in an open area, keep children and pets at least at least 30 feet away,” Irving said. “And this is just to maintain a safe distance and hopefully minimize or eliminate some of the injuries that [are] being caused during this time of year.”

Click here to find community events with free fireworks shows.

GFR fireworks safety tips:      

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix
  • Use sparklers and other legal novelties on a flat, hard surface. Do not light them on grass. 
  • Use sparklers in an open area. Keep children and pets at least 30 feet away. 
  • Light only one item at a time and never attempt to re-light a “dud.” 
  • Don’t use any unwrapped items or items that may have been tampered with. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or water hose on hand for emergencies. Drop used sparklers in a bucket of water. 
  • Only purchase fireworks from licensed vendors. 
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. 

For more information, contact GFR Assistant Chief Stephen Hesson at 352-318-5982 or visit Gainesville Fire Rescue on Facebook and Twitter for additional safety precautions.

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