Officials Stress Safety on Fourth of July

Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services is encouraging caution tomorrow, and throughout the Fourth of July holiday.

Fourth of July is upon us. But, so is the probablity of getting hurt while fireworks fun is being had.

Don't want to be that person who shoots themselves in the foot -- literally, burns down five acres of park land, or sets your neighbor's house afire, then here are some tips to follow, courtesy of Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services.

No. 1, the fire officials want residents to leave the use of fireworks to professionals.

"With the many opportunities to get together and view professional fireworks displays, why take any risks,” said Lt. Colin Rhoden, spokesman for Gwinnett County Fire, in a press release.

Officials said risks associated with consumer-type fireworks include injuries to the hands and eyes, especially children under 15-years old. In addition, accidental fires can be ignited and spread to nearby buildings or people, official said. 

Just last year, some 9,600 people were injured using fireworks and four deaths were reported, according to the the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In a special study, the commission reported that some 65 percent of fireworks injuries happened during the 30 days surrounding Independence Day, with more than half of the injuries from unexpected ignition or consumers not using fireworks correctly.

Sparklers, firecrackers, and aerial devices were associated with the most incidents, the study said.

See below for the things that Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services wants residents to know:

What are legal, consumer-type fireworks?

Those are the "sparkler" types, which include, fountains, sparklers, smoke balls, snakes, ground spinners, pinwheels, and most novelty fireworks including crackling ground items. "A good rule of thumb when buying legal fireworks is to look for a notice on the package that states emits showers of sparks," officials said. 

What are illegal fireworks?

These are items that explode or rise in the air, like the bottle rocket that Roman candles, bottle rockets, sky rockets, aerial shells, cherry bombs, helicopters, firecrackers, and the like are not considered sparklers. They are illegal for sale or use in Georgia, so fund a reputable vendor. Also, inspect the device for defects.

What are the rules for sparklers?

• Never give fireworks to children. Store “sparklers” in a cool, dry place, away from any open flame.

• Always keep a bucket of water, a garden hose, or a fire extinguisher close by.

• Allow enough room when lighting to ensure proper functioning and never light fireworks in windy or stormy conditions. Only light fireworks on firm stable ground, outdoors, and away from buildings and vehicles.

• When weather conditions are dry and hot, don’t use any fireworks, and not even the legal kind. Consider use after a significant rain to lessen the chance of igniting combustible vegetation.

• Light one firework at a time and use a punk or barbecue or fireplace lighter to keep a safe distance away.

• Never attempt to fix or reignite malfunctioning fireworks.

• At the end of the night, inspect the place where you lit the fireworks and the surrounding area to double check that there are no fires that may have started from the sparks.  Wet the area thoroughly, just to be sure.

• Soak all spent and malfunctioning fireworks in a bucket of water for several hours before discarding them in the trash.  Re-store left over fireworks in a cool, dry place, out of the reach of children, pets and open flames.

For more information, visit the Gwinnett Fire Community Risk Reduction website:  www.gwinnettfiremarshal.com.  Also, see attached flyer on sparkler safety tips.

(Editor's Note: This article is taken from a press release from the Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services.)


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