Today, sales of fireworks become legal in Georgia.
The new law may make Saturday’s Fourth of July an especially explosive holiday.
Medical professionals urge safety when setting off fireworks, noting that many people end up in emergency rooms with injuries. Last weekend’s disaster at a crowded celebration in Taiwan, when decorative sprays of colored powder ignited and burned about 500 people, showed the danger of carelessness with potentially dangerous substances.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta says burns are the most common fireworks-related injury to all parts of the body except the eyes, where bruises, cuts, and foreign bodies in the eyes occur more frequently.
The law passed earlier this year authorizes the use of blank cartridges, firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, bombs, sparklers, Roman candles and similarly constructed combustibles and explosives.
“As the festivities and celebrations begin bringing in the Fourth of July, the Hinesville Fire Department would like to inform citizens about the new fireworks law and remind everyone of the importance of safety during the holiday,” HFD Capt. Andra Hart said.
Dr. Natalie Lane, medical director of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Emergency Department in Augusta, said, “A sparkler can burn as hot as a blowtorch; and, unfortunately, we have had to treat children with sparkler burns several times. But these are avoidable injuries if families will carefully follow safety procedures.”
The law defines fireworks as “any combustible or explosive composition or any substance or combination of substances or article prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or audible effect.”
Individuals must be 18 or older to purchase and use fireworks. The use of fireworks is permitted between 10 a.m. and midnight. However, on Jan. 1, July 3, July 4 and Dec. 31, the fireworks curfew extends to 2 a.m.
Fireworks are still prohibited within any school zone, function or transportation provided by a school. Fireworks cannot be exploded indoors or within 100 yards of a nuclear-power facility, gas station or any facility engaged in the production, refining or blending of gasoline.
“If you enjoy watching fireworks, the Hinesville Fire Department recommends attending one of the various display shows around the area for the safest way to enjoy fireworks,” Deputy Chief Kris Johansen said.
Here are some fireworks-safety tips Lane and the Hinesville Fire Department recommend:
• Always read and follow directions on the label carefully.
• Adults should always supervise young children when the kids are around fireworks. Even sparklers should be supervised.
• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Maintain a safe distance from the fireworks device at all times.
• If a firework is deemed a “dud” after not going off once lighted, do not stand near it to see what’s wrong. Instead, wait 15 to 20 minutes; then put the “dud” out with water and dispose of it.
• Never shoot off fireworks in metal or glass containers, and do not carry them in a pocket. Instead, light them outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, leaves, or other flammable materials.
• Always keep some type of water source on hand in case of fire. A large bucket of water or garden hose will do the trick.
• Light fireworks one at a time. Lighting multiple fireworks simultaneously could cause the person setting the fireworks to catch fire or be hit by a firework that goes off early.
• After fireworks finish burning, soak the remainder in of water before discarding to prevent a trash fire.
• If there is a fire or medical emergency at any time, call 911.
For more information concerning consumer fireworks, contact the Hinesville Fire Department at 912-876-4143 or go to www.cityofhinesville.org/fire for information and to submit questions through the “Contact Us” form.
Courier staff contributed to this report.