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Authorities urge safety this holiday weekend
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Dawson County Emergency Services encourages firework safety


While a variety of fireworks are now legal in the state of Georgia, extreme caution must be used to avoid injury, according to Dawson County Emergency Services Deputy Chief Tim Satterfield.


About 16 percent of all consumer fireworks injuries are caused by sparklers burning hands and legs, with the majority of sparkler injuries occurring to young children.


Illegal fireworks, such as cherry bombs, M-80 salutes and large firecrackers containing more than two grains of powder produce risks that can result not only in severe burns and blindness, but also in amputations or death. “A good rule to follow — if it explodes or leaves the ground — it’s illegal,” Satterfield said.


Dawson County Emergency Services urges residents to follow these National Fire Safety Council guidelines for firework safety:


1. Sparklers, considered by many as “safe,” burn at very high temperatures, can easily ignite clothing and stay hot long after burning out. They are as dangerous as matches or lighters to children. Be sure to collect all burned out sparkler wires for disposal.


2. Children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close supervision. Never allow any running or horseplay.


3. Use lighters with a child resistant feature. Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.


4. Light fireworks outdoors, one at a time, on a clear, smooth, flat surface away from houses, dry leaves or grass, or flammable materials.


5. Keep water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on misfired or spent fireworks.


6. Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.


7. Be sure other people and pets are out of range.


8. Never experiment with fireworks or ignite them in a glass or metal container. Do not attempt to make your own.


9. Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas. Store them in a dry, cool place out of the reach of children.


10. Dispose of all fireworks properly.

A wreck Monday morning shut down both lanes of Dawson Forest Road after a Dawsonville man left the road way and careened down a 25 foot embankment.


The man, who reportedly was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from his utility van and taken to an area hospital with non life-threatening injuries, according to emergency services personnel on the scene.


“He is lucky to be alive,” said paramedic Barry Quarlls.


The wreck was turned over to Georgia State Patrol, which is encouraging motorists to keep safety their top priority this July Fourth weekend.


Local authorities and state troopers will be on high alert this holiday weekend, which begins Thursday at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Sunday, July 5 in an effort to keep the holiday traffic count as low as possible.


Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety Bill Hitchens said Monday that Georgia State Troopers and officers with the Department’s Motor Carrier Compliance Division will be patrolling throughout the weekend


“Our troopers and [Department’s Motor Carrier Compliance Division] officers will be concentrating on the most common violations identified as contributing factors in fatal traffic crashes,” he said. “Speeding, impaired driving and failing to wear occupant safety equipment top the list.”


Traffic crashes during the 2008 July Fourth holiday travel period claimed the lives of 22 people in Georgia. There were 1,860 traffic crashes reported and 910 people injured.


Lt. Tony Wooten, with the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, advises drivers to plan their trips this weekend and take time getting to destinations. “With the holiday falling on the weekend, there is a higher chance of encountering an impaired driver. It’s best to stay off the roads during those times,” he said.


Last year, two of the 22 traffic deaths statewide were alcohol related.


E-mail Michele Hester at