The Union Recorder

July 2, 2013

Fireworks spark safety concerns

Felicia Cummings
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —

Fireworks have always added a sparkle of fun to Independence Day festivities, but it’s important to know how to properly handle them to avoid serious injuries. The first step to having a safe Fourth of July is to become familiar with the state laws on fireworks. 

“Every year we see people coming in from other states that don’t really know what the rules are for fireworks in Georgia,” said Baldwin County Fire Marshal and Deputy Chief of Administration Steve Somers. 

In a press release on the importance of firework safety, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens urges citizens to use extreme caution to avoid injuries when using legalized fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday. 

“Consumers may be confused when they discover certain types of fireworks on sale at local retail outlets near our state’s borders, but it’s imperative that out-of-state travelers know which types are legal to use for their holiday functions,” Hudgens said.

Georgia law states that the definition of prohibited fireworks shall not include: “Wire or wood sparklers of 100 grams or less of mixture per item; other sparkling items, which are non-explosive and non-aerial and contain 75 grams or less of chemical compound per tube or a total of 200 grams or less for multiple tubes; snake and glow worms; trick noise makers, which include paper streamers, party poppers, string poppers, snappers, and drop pops each consisting of 0.25 grains or less of explosive mixture.”  

The sale and use of most consumer types of fireworks, including firecrackers, skyrockets and cherry bombs, is still illegal in Georgia and punishable by a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.  

In 2012, there were more than 18,700 injuries caused by fireworks, including more than 7,300 emergency department visits, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Seventy-four percent of patients who were admitted for injuries were children. According to Somers the main type of injuries seen the most in Baldwin County are burns caused by mishandling sparklers, especially with children. He reminds everyone that only adults should light fireworks and to always have adult supervision around children. 

“Even legal fireworks should only be used with close adult supervision,” Hudgens said. “For the sake of safety and seeing a spectacular display, your best bet is to attend a professional show.” 

Another safety concern that has shown up in Baldwin County according to Somers is injuries caused by ground sparklers. The most injured body parts in 2012 for children are the hands, fingers and eyes, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

“We’ve seen a number of cases in past years of kids picking up ground sparklers and pointing them at each other,” said Somers. “Sparklers should never be placed near your body. They may seem harmless but they can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.”  

Another important safety tip to keep in mind is to always read the directions on the package. 

“Read the caution label and directions on fireworks’ packaging before lighting them and never try to re-light a firework,” he said. 

Somers also suggests keeping a bucket of water or a usable garden hose handy in case of a fire or other mishap. 

For more safety tips on the proper way to handle fireworks, Somers suggests visiting the Baldwin County Fire Rescue Facebook page www.facebook.com/baldwincountyfirerescue

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