CRESTVIEW — Independence Day isn't necessarily a free pass for private fireworks displays, according to Crestview Police Department and Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office information.
Crestview Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Schneider said local laws prohibit exploding fireworks, and ones that fly through the air. Sparklers and ground-based fireworks that send up showers of sparks are permitted.
"It can stay on the ground and spin and create showers of sparks, but nothing that flies through the air is permissible," Cmdr. Andrew Schneider said.
Use of prohibited fireworks is a misdemeanor. Fireworks would be seized and the person firing them could be arrested. "Several arrests" were made last Fourth of July holiday weekend, but an exact count was unavailable, Schneider said.
"We receive complaints but usually by the time we get there the fireworks have been blown off," Schneider said.
Schneider said the CPD also received injury calls when people setting off illegal fireworks hurt themselves. Such calls are referred to Okaloosa County EMS or the Crestview Fire Department.
Michele Nicholson, OCSO public information officer, said, "Typically if we get a complaint and find someone in the act of setting off illegal fireworks we ask them to stop and can confiscate their inventory. We usually get compliance and do not have to resort to citations."
Here are the organizations' recommendations for safe use of fireworks.
•Be safe, not sorry. The best way to protect your loved ones this year is to attend one of the many public displays sponsored by communities or organizations all across Florida.
•Contact local officials to see if your community has a ban on private fireworks due to drought conditions.
•Use only approved products. Many dangerous and illegal fireworks, rockets and explosive devices are readily available for purchase. By Florida law, these are unlawful for private fireworks displays and are significantly more likely to cause fires.
•Do not sign a waiver to purchase illegal fireworks. Signing a waiver will not clear a consumer of responsibility if caught illegally using fireworks.
•Only purchase sparklers from licensed vendors.
•Control your environment. Sparklers should be used only on sand, concrete or another non-flammable surface, away from brush, trash or other objects that could catch fire.
•Never give sparklers to young children, as they can reach temperatures between 1,300 and 1,800 degrees, which is at least 200 degrees hotter than a standard butane lighter.
•Never carry sparklers in your pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
•Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
•Keep pets indoors and away from all sparklers.
•Light only one item at a time and never attempt to re-light it.
•Be prepared. Have a fire extinguisher or a hose and a bucket of water readily available.
Visit http://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/sfm/BFP/2017ApprovedSparklerList.pdf for a complete list of Florida-approved fireworks that Florida families can enjoy.