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How you can be safe around fireworks this July 4
4th fire 7
Dawson County Emergency Services personnel stand where a home at 38 Burt's Crossing Drive stood before a July 5, 2018 fire razed it to the ground. - photo by Jessica Taylor

The Fourth of July is right around the corner which means celebrating the nation’s independence with family, friends and fun – which often includes fireworks.

Dawson County Emergency Services Director and Fire Chief Danny Thompson encourages the community to be safe and responsible this July 4.

“It’s about safety. It’s about enjoying the Fourth, celebrating our Independence Day and doing it with family and loved one and friends,” Thompson said. “It’s about the enjoyment and not having to have an emergency event.”


Fireworks, although fun for the holiday, can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more fires are reported on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year, and two out of five are fireworks-related incidents.

The National Fire Protection Association also reports that more than 11,000 Americans are injured from fireworks every year; more than one third of those injuries are obtained by children under the age of 15.

Last year, three homes in the Burt’s Crossing subdivision in Dawsonville burned down as a result of improperly disposed fireworks, and even though Dawson County emergency personnel responded to the structure fires in less than five minutes, three homes were completely gone by the morning.

Thompson said fireworks were disposed of in a trashcan containing household trash which allowed for the embers to smolder and eventually reignite.

Thompson recommends used fireworks be moved to a safety container, preferable a metal trashcan half filled with water with a lid. Fireworks can also be disposed of in safety bins containing sand.

“When you’re done with your firework display, gather all of your trash, place in that metal trashcan and allow those discarded fireworks to remain submerged in that trashcan and cover it with the lid,” Thompson said.

Fireworks that also fail to light should not be relit. If you have a dud, it should sit for 20 minutes before being moved to the safety container where the water can soak it thoroughly so it doesn’t accidentally reignite.

Sparklers are also a source of concern for Thompson as the handheld firework can lead to severe burns, especially for young children, if not supervised properly.

“So many parents, and we’ve all been there, they take children out and they allow the youngsters to hold the sparklers and swirl them around and those things are burning at 1200 degrees and I’ve seen many, many children suffer burns from those sparklers,” Thompson said.

Thompson also warns that children under the age of 16 should not handle fireworks and that fireworks being launched be done so by a “designated shooter” for the event who has not been consuming alcohol.

“Alcohol and fireworks don’t go together just like alcohol and driving,” Thompson said.

Fireworks should also never be pointed at people, animals or structures and Thompson recommends shooters wear gloves and proper eye protection when launching fireworks.

Those wishing to enjoy fireworks in their neighborhoods should check with their Home Owners Associations to see if there are any regulations on firework usage. It is also against Georgia law to shoot fireworks after midnight on July 4.

The weather also plays a role in the safety of firework displays.

“You’ve got to be mindful of wind because wind is going to blow the fireworks from the area and that’s why we recommend a very cleared out, isolated area more than 500 feet from other structures,” Thompson said. “If it’s been dry leading up to Fourth of July, I would recommend hold on to those fireworks for another season. Go see one of the various paid local fireworks displays around.”

The best way to ensure a safe and fun July 4 is to view professional firework displays near you, though should you choose to launch fireworks privately and suffer a medical or fire emergency, Thompson said to call 911 immediately.

“The quicker we get there, the quicker we can manage the situation, the smaller we keep the incident,” Thompson said. 

Here is a list of nearby Fourth of July firework displays and festivities:

 

Sparks in the Motorsports Park

When: 3:30 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, July 4

Where: Atlanta Motorsports Park, 20 Duck Thurmond Road, Dawsonville

How much: Free

More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/588974888256493/

 

Red, White & Rock All Day Music Festival

When: 1 to 11 p.m. Thursday, July 4

Where: Cumming Fairgrounds, 235 Castleberry Road, Cumming

How much: $5

More info: www.facebook.com/events/408629353263884

 

Fourth of July Celebration

When: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, July 4

Where: Downtown Dahlonega

How much: Free

More info: www.facebook.com/events/313855932874312

 

 

17th-Annual Star Spangled Fourth

When: 3 to 11:30 p.m. Thursday, July 4

Where: Mall of Georgia, 3333 Buford Drive, Buford

How much: Free

More info: www.facebook.com/events/646274699178950

 

4th of July Music, Parade & Fireworks

When: 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, July 4

Where: Downtown Braselton, 9924 Davis St., Braselton

How much: Free

More info: www.facebook.com/events/2029544057348989

4th of July Fireworks

When: 9 p.m. Thursday, July 4

Where: Downtown Helen, 726 Brucken Strasse, Helen

How much: Free

More info: www.helenga.org/calendar/helens-50th-celebration-4th-of-july-fireworks