POMPANO BEACH, Fla. - 4TH OF JULY FIREWORKS DISPLAYS IN PALM BEACH COUNTY, TREASURE COAST
Fireworks will light up the sky on the Fourth of July, but the beautiful explosions in the air can be deadly and destructive on the ground.
A South Florida man had his hand blown off from fireworks this week. The Broward Sheriff's Office said the man was in the bathroom at his friend's Pompano Beach apartment attempting to modify a golf ball sized mortar. That's when it exploded. The man's hand and wrist were later amputated by doctors.
Firework injuries are common. There were 156 Florida fires caused by sparklers or fireworks in fiscal year 2012 / 2013. Nationwide, fireworks also sent 8,700 people to the hospital for treatment of burns, eye injuries, and loss of limbs. Others died.
Broward Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Mike Jachles said safe and sane fireworks don't exist. Things can go wrong faster than 911 can respond to your emergency.
An investigation is ongoing in the accidental discharge. The Sheriff's Office confiscated several thousand dollars in fireworks. A determination on charges has not been made.
While there are loopholes in Florida law that allow the sale of fireworks, the state Fire Marshal warns against signing waivers to purchase them. That waiver will not clear you of responsibility if you are caught using illegal fireworks.
Sixty percent of fireworks related injuries in any given year happen in the the weeks before and after the Fourth of July, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Sparklers can also be dangerous, because they can reach temperatures between 1,300 and 1,800 degrees. That's at least 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter, according to Florida's Fire Marshal. Children are especially vulnerable to injuries from sparklers. The CPSC reports 1,000 injuries involving sparklers and bottle rockets.
"These figures represent more than numbers; they represent the lives of real people who have been affected well beyond the Fourth of July," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.
To stay safe, fire officials say light only one item at a time. If it doesn't light, don't attempt to re-light it. Keep a fire extinguisher and garden hose nearby in case of an emergency. A bucket of water will work for sparklers.
The safest way to enjoy the spectacle on the Fourth is to attend a public fireworks display.
Jenn is the Contact 5 Consumer Watchdog at WPTV. If you have a story idea, need help with a consumer issue, or want to report a consumer trend or issue - email firstname.lastname@example.org