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Tallahassee — Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam today called for Floridians to use fireworks safely and responsibly while celebrating Independence Day.
“Every year, Americans celebrate the independence of our nation and the sacrifices of those who fight to keep us free,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Fireworks are an integral and historical part of those celebrations; however, fire safety is everyone’s responsibility.”
Due to heavy rain throughout the state from tropical storm activity, wildfire danger has decreased significantly in much of the state with no active county burn bans currently in place.
A majority of the Florida peninsula currently scores under 100 on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), a scale of 0 to 750+ used by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Florida Forest Service for estimating the dryness of the soil and duff layers. High values of the KBDI are an indication that conditions are favorable for the occurrence and spread of wildfires.
The department urges Floridians to continue to use caution because drought is not by itself a prerequisite for wildfires. Other weather factors, such as wind, temperature, relative humidity and atmospheric stability, play a major role in determining the actual fire danger.
To avoid wildfire ignition and other unsafe conditions, consider the following fireworks safety tips:
· Research and adhere to all county and city fireworks laws.
· Clear a designated area free of dry vegetation where fireworks will be ignited.
· Remove all debris from roofs and decks where fireworks could land.
· Always have a water source available (water hose or bucket).
· Do not allow children to light fireworks.
· Keep spectators a safe distance from the firework ignition location.
· Wear protective eyewear when igniting fireworks (i.e. glasses, sunglasses, goggles, etc).
· Aim fireworks away from people, homes and wooded areas.
· Handle duds cautiously. If a device does not light or fire, an adult should wait at least 20 minutes, approach it carefully, and place it in a bucket of water.
· Do not alter or combine fireworks.
· Never use homemade fireworks and/or illegal explosives.
· Make sure fireworks are cold before handling and discard used fireworks into a bucket of water.
· Clean up all debris.
· Be sure all unused fireworks, matches and lighters are out of the sight and reach of children.
Floridians wishing to enjoy fireworks displays should check with their local municipality for professional fireworks exhibits available in the area. Local fire and police departments can also provide guidance on permitted fireworks and appropriate safety precautions. Report all wildfires immediately by calling 911 or calling the local Florida Forest Service office.
Since January 1, 2,321 wildfires have burned 102,590 acres throughout Florida. The Florida Forest Service manages one million acres of public forest land while protecting over 26 million acres of homes, forestland, and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire. For statewide wildfire updates and additional wildfire information, visit www.floridaforestservice.com or follow FFS on Facebook or Twitter.
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.