Officials share safety tips for 4th of July holiday

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)- Independence day is just a few days away and safety this holiday weekend is on the mind of first responders.

You hear it every year, be safe when lighting off fireworks this 4th of July, but sometimes, accidents happen. Fire officials respond to a number of these incidents and have a few tips to prevent it from happening.

“We want to keep a safe distance away when we’re lighting these fireworks. Obviously, you have to be close when you light them and that back away and you don’t want to be lighting them near dry debris, landscaping, or things like that,” said Panama City Beach Fire Rescue Captain, Tim Smith.

While you think your firework may be a dud, use caution when approaching them at all times. “If they don’t go off, don’t run over to them and wonder why they don’t go off or stick your head above them because they certainly might just be delayed,” said Smith.

Smith said that some residents don’t realize certain fireworks are illegal in the state of Florida. If it shoots high off the ground, it is not legal for at home use. He advises leaving those types of fireworks to the professionals who put on shows in local cities on the actual holiday.

However, fireworks aren’t the only concern. With recent rough conditions in the Gulf and influx of tourists this holiday season, safety on the water is a priority.

“Often times you’ll have bystanders that don’t have the training and aren’t educated on how the rip currents work that is brave but get themselves in trouble,” said Aquatic Superintendent, Will Spivey.

Lifeguards and beach safety officials said to leave the rescuing to them and post up at a spot on the beach that’s supervised.

“We’ve got guards posted here at the city pier, the county pier, and Rick Seltzer Park, those areas are obviously the safest on this island,” said Spivey.

Smith also said the gulf isn’t the only worry when it comes to the water. Officials urge parents and guardians to watch out for small children around the pool.

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