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Saturday May 30th, 2015 2:27AM

Fireworks safety not just for the 4th

By Derreck Booth Anchor/reporter
GAINESVILLE - Alcohol isn't the only potential danger on New Year's Eve. Hall County fire officials said they're not as prevalent as they are on the Fourth of July, but fireworks do result in some calls New Year's Eve.

Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said the irony is that people educate children to stay away from lighters and matches, but they don't hesitate to hand them sparklers.

"This burning stick of magnesium here burns up to 1200 degrees, over 1000 degrees, and we light that and give it to a child to run around in the yard."

As far as what fireworks are legal, Cagle said if you have to go to another state to get them, they're illegal in Georgia. While they're packaged to look like more serious fireworks, Cagle said the items sold in Georgia are basically different versions of sparklers.

He said everything that explodes or shoots high into the air is off limits in Georgia.

"If you think you shouldn't be doing something or you're kind of iffy on it, number one, don't do it. Common sense should always prevail," Cagle said.

While firefighters' first advice is not to use them, Cagle said to keep fireworks away from buildings and vehicles, light them on flat and hard surfaces and always have water or an extinguisher handy.

For lighting, Cagle said to use a longer candle-type lighter to keep your hands clear of the fuse, and never let children light them.

As far as after the celebration, Cagle said to let the fireworks cool before approaching them. Instead of putting them in the trash, Cagle said it's crucial to put them in a bucket of water and let them soak overnight before you discard them.

In the U.S. last year, Cagle said around 1900 people were hurt using fireworks. In addition to the injury potential, Cagle said property damage or destruction from a fire is also a risk.

His best advice, "enjoy a pro (fireworks) show," and don't risk marking the holiday with a tragedy by shooting your own fireworks.
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