Planning to celebrate the Fourth of July with a bang? Floridians can set off their own Fourth of July fireworks display or enjoy a community event.
A 1941 Florida law prohibited the sale of fireworks that leave the ground or explode, but fireworks sales tents found a way to get around the restriction by using an agricultural exemption.
The 1941 law allowed sparklers, a “snake” or “glow worm” with not more than 10 grams of pyrotechnic composition, smoke devices, noisemakers and party poppers.
Other fireworks were restricted to those with a permit for a professional fireworks show, to illuminate railroads or to scare birds away from crops or fish hatcheries. So for years, fireworks sales tents in Florida would require buyers to sign an agreement the fireworks were for “agricultural” use.
In 2020, the Florida Legislature passed a new law which allows the public to use fireworks three days a year:
• The Fourth of July;
• New Year’s Eve; and,
• New Year’s Day.
Health officials advise the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch a professional display. Area professional fireworks displays planned for July 4 include:
• At 9 p.m. at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center, 4601 SR 710 E, Okeechobee.
• At dark, in Barron Park in LaBelle;
• At dusk at the Sugarland Sports Park Complex, 100 Sugarland Park Drive, in Clewiston;
• At the Fourth of July Extravaganza in Las Palmas, 1799 South Main Street, Belle Glade. The event opens at 3 p.m. and will include a rodeo, family fun, food trucks and firetrucks.
The Florida Department of Health offers the following tips for a safe Fourth of July celebration:
• Never use homemade and/or illegal fireworks.
• Clear away any dry vegetation and debris from the area before igniting any fireworks.
• Always have a water source, full bucket of water and/or fire-extinguisher, close at hand.
• Make sure your pets are indoors before you begin, to reduce the risk they will run loose or get injured. Animals have sensitive ears and can be frightened or stressed during a fireworks celebration.
• Be sure those watching are at a safe distance from where fireworks are being ignited.
• Use safety eyewear, glasses or goggles, to protect your eyes while igniting fireworks.
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
• Do not allow children to play with or light fireworks.
• Sparklers should only be used under close adult supervision. While often considered a “safe” firework for the young, the tip of a sparkler burns at 1,200 degrees or higher, which can cause third degree burns.
• If a firework does not light or fire, let it sit for at least 20 minutes then carefully place it in a bucket of water.
• Make sure fireworks are cold before handling and place all used fireworks into a bucket of water.
• Clean up all debris.
• Be sure matches, lighters and any unused fireworks are out of the sight and reach of children before, during and after your celebration.