The Key West Fire Department is reminding everyone to use extra safety precautions this holiday because of the extraordinarily dry conditions. That means stay away from any kind of home fireworks and, instead, enjoy the public display at the White Street Pier.

“Remember, if it explodes or if it flies, it’s illegal,” said Key West Fire Marshal Marcus Del Valle. “So we’re encouraging everyone to just come out and enjoy the display being sponsored by the Rotary Club.”

This year the Fire Department will be more diligent about stopping illegal displays due to the dry season. The lack of rain and the density of wooden structures on the island makes Key West a potential tinder box. In fact, even the public fireworks display might have been in jeopardy if it weren’t being displayed over the water.

The Key West Fire Department will have extra inspectors Monday night to ensure that no illegal fireworks are being used.

Sparklers are about the only type of fireworks legal in Key West, other than the fully permitted public display at the White Street Pier. But even sparklers can be dangerous. They burn at an amazing 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. If a small child grabs the end of a sparkler, she could sustain third degree burns. Be cautious, too, of any parts of the public display that may fall on land. Though most of the display is over the water, there’s a small chance that some hot particles of the fireworks might come down on the pier or on the nearby street.

One final safety precaution has to do with boating at night. There’s nothing more exciting that watching a fireworks display from the water. Just remember, when the show is over, there are a lot of boats out there trying to get home. And many of those boaters may be unfamiliar with boating at night.

So with a little forethought, and a little common sense, the Fourth of July, 2011 promises to be a lot of fun!

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