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A refresher on lighting up the Fourth of July sky

Craig Perry, 18, of St. Petersburg shops for fireworks last week at a stand on Fourth Street and NE Lincoln Circle N in St. Petersburg operated by Galaxy Fireworks. In Pinellas County, people can’t legally buy anything that flies or explodes.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Craig Perry, 18, of St. Petersburg shops for fireworks last week at a stand on Fourth Street and NE Lincoln Circle N in St. Petersburg operated by Galaxy Fireworks. In Pinellas County, people can’t legally buy anything that flies or explodes.

With July 4 around the corner, it's probably a good time for a refresher on fireworks. In Florida, anything that flies or explodes is illegal, so it's sparklers and fountains for those so inclined. It's not a crime to possess illegal fireworks, but it's a first-degree misdemeanor to offer to sell, explode or use fireworks. The law does allow fireworks to be sold to frighten birds from "agricultural works and fish hatcheries." Buyers have to sign a form for such purposes, stating their intentions. So if farmers are looking for something fun to scare off some birds in a mile-wide area, they might want to try the Star Cruiser, said Sharon Hunnewell-Johnson, president of Galaxy Fireworks in Tampa. It gives buyers 36 mortar shells that are sure to clear all fowl creatures from a fish hatchery. Hunnewell-Johnson said sales of fireworks haven't really ramped up. "To be honest, most Americans are procrastinators," she said.

Pinellas County

Those with a bird problem here are in trouble, because they can't legally buy anything that flies or explodes, even with the appropriate forms.

Pasco County

The sheriff's Web site says the office treads lightly on cracking down on the use of illegal fireworks, largely because a couple of previous attempts had mixed success.

Hillsborough County

Folks can buy fireworks here, but an ordinance says they can't bring them into parks.

Hernando County

People can buy what they want and blow up what they want, as long as they're scaring some birds.

Fireworks injuries

National: Eleven people died and an estimated 9,200 were treated in emergency rooms in 2006 (the most recent figures available) because of fireworks-related injuries, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

State: In Florida fireworks caused 134 non-fatal injuries from 2000 to 2006, according to the Florida Department of Health. Predominantly, males are the ones hurt, and most accidents happen at home.

Safety

As for keeping your loved ones safe, the National Council on Fireworks Safety has a few guidelines:

•Always use fireworks outdoors.

•Always have a hose or bucket of water handy.

•Don't drink and launch fireworks, so have a "designated shooter."

•Don't relight "dud" fireworks. If it doesn't blow up, wait 20 minutes then douse it with that water.

•Homemade fireworks are dangerous, so don't use them.

•And lastly, obey the local laws.

A refresher on lighting up the Fourth of July sky 06/28/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 29, 2009 9:12am]

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