Fireworks safety urged for New Year’s

Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A DISPLAY OF LEGAL FIREWORKS, mostly sparklers, is seen at the Bainbridge Walmart on Tuesday. Firecrackers and other airborne or highly-explosive fireworks cannot be legally purchased or possessed in Georgia.

Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph T. Hudgens and the Georgia State Fire Marshal urge parents to protect their children (and themselves) from the dangers of fireworks during the New Year’s holiday.

Hudgens reminds Georgians that sparklers, although legal in Georgia, should be used properly outdoors in a clear area and with adult supervision. If a legal device has failed to perform properly, do not attempt to re-ignite it.

Doyle Welch, deputy fire chief at Bainbridge Public Safety, said it’s a good idea to keep a bucket of water or water hose close by in case sparks from legal fireworks catch dry grass on fire.

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The sale and individual use of any type of firework, except certain kinds of sparklers, is illegal in Georgia. In addition, no one under 18 years old can buy fireworks.

The penalties for illegal fireworks are a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and/or a sentence of up to one year in jail.

The rationale behind such strict laws regarding fireworks is because they have the potential to seriously injure anyone, whether by accident or recklessness.

Sparklers can burn at temperatures as high as 1,800 degrees, Welch said. Fireworks that are illegal in Georgia, such as ones that launch into the air, can burn and badly injure people who handle them improperly, with kids especially at risk because of their inexperience.

“According to the National Fire Protection Association’s latest published data, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,800 people for fireworks related injuries each year,” Hudgens said. “Approximately 39 percent of these injuries occurred among children age 14 years and younger.”

“Yes, it is traditional to celebrate the coming of the New Year with fireworks,” Hudgens said. “However, I encourage our citizens to enjoy them safely by using legal devices as they mark the arrival of the New Year 2012.”


Prohibited fireworks

Roman candles, cherry bombs, firecrackers, skyrockets and other fireworks are still illegal in the state.

Georgia law defines prohibited fireworks to include all fireworks, with the exception of: “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.”