NASHVILLE — The State Fire Marshal's Office is asking Tennesseans to keep safety in mind as they say goodbye to 2013 and usher in the New Year tonight and Wednesday morning.
"No matter where you choose to celebrate the new year, be sure to do it safely," State Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said in a news release. "Leave fireworks to the professionals and have emergency escape plans in place for not only your home, but for public venues as well."
While families celebrating the New Year with fireworks is a long-standing tradition, state officials point out thousands of people, mostly children and teens, are seriously injured each year through their use.
The State Fire Marshal's Office is strongly advising people attend organized public fireworks displays "where compliance with state-of-the-art fire codes offers a safer way to ring in a new year."
If consumer fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, the state is urging you to follow these important safety tips:
• Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks -- this includes sparklers, which reach temperatures of 1,200 degrees.
• Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
• Wear eye protection.
• Make sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
• Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals.
• Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials.
• Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
• Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
The Fire Marshal's Office also urges residents to make sure homes are equipped with working smoke alarms on every level, including the basement, and that everyone in the home knows the sound the alarm makes and what it signifies.
Have a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place. Practice the plan with all members of your household at night and during the day.