PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — 2022 is just around the corner, and many are looking to celebrate.
A common way to ring in the new year is by setting off fireworks, but taking the proper precautions is of the utmost importance.
Fireworks have long been synonymous with celebrations, but lighting fireworks yourself always poses a certain level of danger.
In 2020, more than 15,000 people were treated in ERs across the country for firework-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Carrie Stomp owns ‘Firework Factory’ in Panama City, and she said she always makes sure her customers know the risks.
“I talk to customers, explain to them the dangers… I mean even a sparkler is dangerous,” Stomp said. “I explain to them how to do things, the best way to do it. Try to stay away from trees or houses. The best place is the beach and we are lucky enough to live by the beach so use them. That’s where everybody goes.”
As of 2020, it is now legal to set off fireworks that leave the ground, or Class C fireworks, in the state of Florida.
But only on three days: Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
Stomp has been preparing for weeks in anticipation of her store being filled with customers from wall to wall on New Year’s Eve.
With the new law, she takes extra precautions in explaining just how to light these more dangerous fireworks.
“Say the motors or the canisters. I take a moment out and I explain to them. Put your canister down, pack a little dirt around it so it doesn’t tip over, and blow up somewhere else,” Stomp said. “Make sure you put it in the right way. I’ll demonstrate it, open the box and demonstrate to do it if it’s a customer that says ‘I’ve never done it,’ so I’ll open the box and show them, or a multi-aerial, I’ll show them how to do that.”
The Panama City Fire Department also wants people to be smart this holiday.
“They want to make sure that if they are doing fireworks to keep it away from their houses… Do not play with fireworks inside their homes,” Lieutenant Gilbert Head said. “Also, they want to make sure they are not holding fireworks as there is bodily harm that can be caused if they are playing with it.”
Fire officials recommend having a bucket of water or garden hose handy just in case a fire were to start.