Fireworks are a popular way to celebrate the new year.
But only a few are legal in Georgia, and even those can be hazardous if not handled properly.
“Georgia law allows sparklers, snappers, party poppers, glow worms, smoke devices and snakes,” Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said. “But firecrackers, torpedoes, Roman candles and any fireworks that shoot into the air before exploding are prohibited.”
In 2011, fireworks accounted for 9,600 injuries treated at hospitals and an estimated 17,800 fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Association officials recommend leaving fireworks to the professionals. But those who want to put on their own show, Morris said to use common sense when handling fireworks.
“They need to be careful,” Columbia County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Danny Kuhlmann said. “They need to only use fireworks that are approved for use in the state of Georgia.”
Morris said he expects deputies to respond to many complaints of illegal fireworks on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Often- times, the fireworks have ended by the time deputies arrive.
“If they haven’t, deputies look for signs of dangerous use that may cause a fire and use the opportunity to educate fireworks users about safety and/or laws governing fireworks,” Morris said.
Deputies typically issue a warning for the first offense of firing fireworks illegally and they seize the illegal fireworks.
“Most shooters comply,” Morris said. “In fact, I can’t remember the last time a citation was issued.”
Kuhlmann said those shooting off fireworks should take some precautions to prevent injuries and fires.
Never shoot fireworks near structures or dry areas such as grass or woods. Always keep a water hose handy and never allow children to shoot fireworks.
“Don’t hold or modify the fireworks in any way,” Kuhlmann said.