Under a new state law that went into effect Wednesday, Georgians are no longer limited to having only sparkler-type illuminations.
Fireworks that explode in the air — such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles — now are legal to discharge in Georgia.
“That means this July Fourth and the future ones should be louder, colorful — and more dangerous,” Bryan County Emergency Services Chief Freddy Howell said.
The one thing it could mean less of is sleep. Georgia now allows consumer fireworks to be set off between 10 a.m. and midnight every day, with that curfew extended to 2 a.m. on July 3, July 4, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
“If your dog is terrified of fireworks, then you better put it in a soundproof room this coming weekend,” Howell said.
The new fireworks law does come with plenty of regulations, though.
Fireworks must be bought in-person, face-to-face. The person buying the fireworks must be at least 18 years old and show photo identification.
Fireworks sellers are required to be licensed through the Georgia State Fire Marshal’s Office prior to setting up shop. Fireworks cannot be sold out of vehicles or trailers towed by a vehicle.
“My primary concern is personal safety,” Howell said. “I am worried for the citizens who try to use these fireworks. I think we will experience more serious injuries from people using fireworks.”
Howell’s concerns aren’t limited to potential injuries to people. He also sees an increased risk of house and woods fires.
“Fireworks that go up in the air can land anywhere,” Howell said. “If they land on a roof with built-up pine straw, watch out. Or if they land in the woods, they could start a wildfire.”
Howell offers the following to-do list for people who plan to shoot fireworks:
• Always read and follow label directions.
• Only use fireworks outdoors.
• Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
• Light only one firework at a time.
• Never reignite malfunctioning fireworks.
• Fireworks should be used only with close adult supervision.
• Never give fireworks to small children.
• Be sure to have water handy.
• Never throw fireworks at another person.
• In an emergency, call 911.
Also, under Georgia law, shooting fireworks is illegal within a school-safety zone, at a school function or on a school bus. Fireworks cannot be set off within 100 yards of a nuclear-power facility or gas station, or a facility that refines, processes or blends gasoline.