It’s that time of year again where dogs take cover and people increase their risk of fireworks-related injuries.
Cpl. Jessica Van with the Gainesville Police Department, said although igniting fireworks is legal in Georgia, she encourages people to “use good judgement for good practice and be safe about it.”
Here are five things Hall County residents should keep in mind when igniting fireworks this July Fourth.
Find a designated ignitor
Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix.
Jason Sillay, owner of Xtreme Xplosives Fireworks in Gainesville, stresses the importance of not operating fireworks under the influence.
“Try and moderate alcohol use, and have someone who’s going to be responsible,” he said.
Van said during July Fourth, the Gainesville Police Department often investigates noise complaints. While the state offers a noise ordinance exemption to fireworks, law enforcement is still required to respond to the 911 calls. This can lead to the discovery of prohibited fireworks activity.
“If officers do find that people igniting fireworks unsafely, they could possibly get in trouble for that,” Van said. “If you’re under the influence of alcohol or any drug to the extent that it’s unsafe for people around you, you could get a charge for it.”
Keep animals indoors
Julie Edwards, executive director of the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, suggests keeping pets indoors while fireworks are going off.
During the week of July Fourth, she said many animals go missing and end up in shelters.
“Just leave your pets at home,” Edwards said. “It takes one slip of the collar and dragging of the leash, and they’re gone.”
She encourages pet owners to make sure their pets are microchipped or have collars with updated contact information in the case that the animal goes missing.
To create a stress-free space for pets on July Fourth, Edwards recommends keeping cats and dogs in a dark space like a basement or garage. If the pets feel comfortable in a crate, she said that also helps decrease the anxiety.
“Anything you can do to keep them calm is helpful,” Edwards said. “If they want to hide, let them hide. That makes them feel safe.”
If people do find a missing pet, the Humane Society offers free microchip scans.
Make an anchor
With certain fireworks like multi-shot cakes and individually loaded mortar shells, Sillay encourages the use of an anchor.
“It’s always good to prop some cinder blocks to the side, so it doesn’t knock over,” Sillay said. “Dogs can go running past, the wind blows and sometimes they can kick over.”
Use common sense
July Fourth is a busy day for first responders when it comes to fireworks, Van said.
“People are being treated for fireworks related injuries every year,” she said.
She reminds people to ignite their fireworks in an open area and keep them away from flammable objects. Only those 18 years and older can legally operate fireworks.
Sillay recommends taking the proper safety precautions like wearing goggles, donning gloves and keeping a fire extinguisher or water hose closeby when lighting fireworks.
Hall County Fire Marshal’s Office advised the community in a press release not to relight fireworks that fail to function properly. They ask people to wait 20 minutes after touching a “dud,” then soak it in a bucket of water overnight.
Be mindful of midnight
Under state law, Van said people can shoot fireworks any day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, fireworks may be used from 9 p.m. to midnight on July 3 and July 4.