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Holiday safety tips offered

By Staff | Jul 3, 2013

People are reminded to stay safe this holiday as they celebrate the nation’s independence.

“In light, of course, of the holiday, obviously we know there will be people participating in fireworks displays,” Sgt. David Velez, a spokesman for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, said Wednesday.

Authorities are asking that residents take precautions and follow basic safety guidelines.

“Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks,” he said.

According to the Division of State Fire Marshal, sparklers can reach temperatures between 1,300 degrees and 1,800 degrees – at least 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter.

Never position your body directly over a firework while lighting the firework. Velez suggested that people light one firework at a time, and they should never attempt to relight or reignite a firework.

“Do not point fireworks at other people,” he said.

Keep a fire extinguisher and water hose on hand in case of an emergency and have a bucket of water available for used sparklers. Keep pets indoors during the festivities and away from all sparklers.

In the 2012-13 fiscal year, there were 156 fires in Florida caused by sparklers or fireworks, according to state officials. The Division of State Fire Marshal has a list of approved sparklers on its Web site.

“I encourage all Floridians to take the necessary precautions when celebrating our nation’s independence,” Jeff Atwater, Florida’s CFO and state fire marshall, said in a statement Tuesday. “The proper fire safety precautions can help ensure that you make only good memories this holiday.”

Velez noted that safety on the road should be another priority over the holiday.

“Everybody needs to be safe and cognizant of what’s going on around them,” he said, adding that they should plan ahead for any Fourth of July events. “Plan for the traffic if you’re going to participate.”

The LCSO will be conducting proactive patrols.

“Just to make sure we keep the community safe and make sure everybody has a good time on the Fourth of July,” Velez said.

Officials at the Florida High Patrol reported that during the Independence Day holiday travel period, July 4-7, troopers will be out in full force also, looking to removed impaired drivers from the road.

Velez advised against consuming alcohol and driving.

“If you do decide to drink, have a designated driver,” he said.

Motorists should also follow all applicable traffic rules and regulations.

“Get out there and enjoy the holiday – Independence Day is big,” Velez said. “Let’s make it a safe one.”