As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, local firefighters urge extreme caution when handling fireworks.
“People should know the risks they face when using fireworks,” said Tim Satterfield, deputy chief of Dawson County Emergency Services. “Many fireworks are now legal in the state of Georgia, but even these must be used with great caution.”
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 16 percent of all consumer fireworks injuries are caused by sparklers burning hands and legs.
The majority of sparkler injuries happen to young children, with about a third of those fireworks injuries happening to children under 5 years old.
Illegal fireworks, such as cherry bombs, M-80 salutes, and large firecrackers containing over 2 grams 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.
Satterfield said fireworks can be enjoyed when treated with respect.
The following guidelines for firework safety are designed to help you and your family have a safe holiday:
• 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.
• Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close supervision. Never allow any running or horseplay.
• Use lighters with a child resistant feature.
• Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.
• Light fireworks outdoors, one at a time, on a clear, smooth, flat surface away from houses, dry leaves or grass, or flammable materials.
• Keep water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on misfired or spent fireworks.
• Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
• Be sure other people and pets are out of range.
• Never experiment with fireworks or ignite them in a glass or metal container. Do not attempt to make your own.
• Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas. Store them in a dry, cool place out of the reach of children.
• Dispose of all fireworks properly.