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Avoid hazards during the holiday
Authorities urge caution with fireworks for the Fourth
Irma Nunez, left, and Daniel Sanchez look over the selection of fireworks Monday at the temporary Phantom Fireworks stand in the parking lot at the intersection of Pearl Nix and John Morrow parkways. - photo by Tom Reed

Laurel Park fireworks

What: Paul E. Bolding Post No. 7 of the American Legion’s 49th annual fireworks
When: Gates open at 9 a.m. Wednesday, and fireworks start at dusk
Where: Laurel Park, 3100 Old Cleveland Highway, Gainesville
How much: $5 parking

Fireworks safety tips

  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Never try to relight a “dud” firework.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher, bucket of water or garden hose handy.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in the area.
  • Light one firework at a time and move back quickly.
  • Never throw used fireworks in the trash.
  • Submerge used fireworks in water for 20 minutes before discarding.
  • Don’t drink alcoholic beverages while lighting fireworks.
  • Never hold a child while holding a sparkler.
  • Teach children not to wave or run around with sparklers.
  • Never throw a sparkler.
  • Remain standing while holding a lit sparkler.
  • Don’t hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
  • When finished, soak the sparkler in a bucket of water before discarding.


Source: The National Council on Fireworks Safety

Read more about July Fourth activities

Childhood memories can be made while marveling at the magic at the end of a sparkler. But making sure those happy July Fourth memories aren’t tarnished by an accident takes a little bit of preparation and a respect for fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the end of a sparkler can reach temperatures as hot as 2,000 degrees — enough to melt some metals and cause third-degree burns.

And according to the National Fire Protection Association, more fires — twice as many as an average day — are reported on July 4 than on any other day.

Georgia law does not allow fireworks that explode or fly into the sky but does allow certain types of sparklers.

“Even though there are Georgia-legal fireworks, we still advise consumers not to use them,” Capt. Scott Cagle, Hall County fire marshal, said.

Instead, officials say the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch public displays put on by professionals.

Cagle said he’s worried about the holiday festivities this year because of the extreme heat, wind and dryness.

Gainesville Fire Marshal Chad Payne shared that concern.

“People should be aware that when they light fireworks, it could cause a grass or wood fire,” Payne said.

Officials said people can help prevent fire by lighting their fireworks on asphalt or concrete away from houses or buildings and keeping a fire extinguisher or water source nearby in case the sparks do ignite.

Direct property loss caused by fireworks cost about $38 million in 2009, according to the fire administration.

More important than property loss, fireworks have caused serious injury and death. An estimated 8,600 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in the emergency room in 2010, according to the fire administration.

Some 65 percent of those injured were male, and 40 percent of those injured were younger than 15.

“We tell kids not to play with matches and lighters, but then we light (a sparkler) and hand it to them. ... So it’s a mixed message,” Cagle said.

The body parts most often injured by fireworks are the hands and fingers, but the legs, eyes and head are also frequently injured, according to the fire administration.

While sparklers might seem harmless, especially compared to other fireworks, the fire administration estimates there were 1,200 injuries associated with sparklers in 2010. About 400 injuries were caused by bottle rockets the same year.

Officials say injuries and fires can be prevented with good judgment. Just remember not to let children play with fireworks, always have an adult light the fireworks, and alcohol and pyrotechnics don’t mix.

“We just want everyone to have a safe Fourth of July and for no one to have any injuries,” Payne said.

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