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'Fire up' safely this Independece Day
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The familiar booms, crackles and sparkling skies are the iconic symbols of an Independence Day celebration. Children and adults alike love the glow of sparklers and the snapping sound of Black Cats, but even the smallest fireworks can carry some potential for harm.

Since 2007, the only fireworks for personal use that are legal in the state of Georgia are non-explosive, non-launchable fireworks such as sparklers, fountains and noise makers, said Hinesville fire investigator Rick Perryman.

As with any incendiary devices, Perryman said residents who enjoy fireworks should use common sense. “Sparklers are still dangerous, and so are the ones that stand on a base,” he said. “There should be adult supervision, and just be sure to use common sense.”

The Georgia Forestry Commission is reporting no burn bans or restrictions in place, thanks to recent rainfall. However, Perryman said, “if you can, go into an area that doesn’t have thick or dry grass.”

Common sense can also prevent injuries, said Dr. Bobby Herrington, an emergency physician with Liberty Regional Medical Center. “You see burns, eye injuries … if it explodes in the hand you can see blunt trauma.”

Herrington said the hospital doesn’t see fireworks injuries too often, and when they do it’s generally a low volume of patients. However, he said if injuries occur and people are unsure of the severity, they should seek medical attention.

“Really, the best way to enjoy fireworks is to go where the professionals are handling it,” he said.

Hinesville Fire Department public safety officer Capt. Andra Hart Sr. confirmed that the most common fireworks-related injuries are to the hands, head, eyes, face and ears.  “These injuries range from first to third-degree burns,” he said.

Hart said users can limit their risk of injury by following such safety tips as not allowing children under age 14 handle fireworks themselves, not wearing loose clothing or lighting more than one at a time, and never attempting homemade fireworks. Additionally, fireworks should never be ignited while inside containers, especially glass or metal.

Tommy Glasgow, regional president of fireworks manufacturer TNT Fireworks, said safety education initiatives have helped reduce fireworks-related incidents. TNT sells through mass retailers and at tent locations such as the one on Oglethorpe Highway near Walmart.

“Injuries have been reduced, even as consumption has risen in the past few decades,” Glasgow said. “We are confident this trend will continue as more patriotic festivities take place at home this year.”

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