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Send the year out with a bang
Stay safe and legal when celebrating with fireworks

This New Year’s Eve, use fireworks safely to ensure a joyous celebration doesn’t go wrong.

Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said the best way to keep safe is to watch professional fireworks shows, but those who want their own fireworks should use only those available locally.

“If you have to go to another state to buy them, it’s probably not legal in Georgia,” Cagle said. “The only thing that you can buy in Georgia are sparklers.”

Things like Roman candles, fire crackers and bottle rockets are noisier and more dangerous.

Anytime fireworks are used it should be in a clear space such as a driveway with a bucket of water nearby.

“A bucket of water helps for two reasons,” Cagle said. “It can help them put out a fire if a fire does start but also it can help them discard the fireworks when they’re done. Let (used fireworks) soak before throwing them away.”

While hand-held sparklers are legal, Cagle does not recommend giving them to small children because they get so hot.

“We’re teaching our kids not to play with lighters or matches, but we’ll give them a burning stick of magnesium that burns at over 1,000 degrees and we think that’s OK,” Cagle said. “So we’re sending that mixed message to children.”

Nationwide, statistics show that fireworks can be more dangerous than many may realize.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks caused an estimated 32,600 reported fires, including 1,700 total structure fires, 600 vehicle fires, and 30,300 outside and other fires in 2006. These fires resulted in an estimated six civilian deaths, 70 civilian injuries and $34 million in direct property damage.

In 2007, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,800 people for fireworks-related injuries.

Cagle said people should get medical attention for burns, which can be serious injuries.

“A lot of people are still using old home remedies for burns, which is one of the worst things they could do. Don’t put butter or Crisco on a burn,” Cagle said.

Following some simple precautions or avoiding fireworks all together can make for a safer, happier New Year’s Eve, he said.

“I’m the Grinch of fireworks to a lot of people, but I see the side of it that parents don’t see, I visit the burn units,” Cagle said. “I want folks to enjoy the new year and not bring in the new year in an emergency room.”

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