Independence Day is a popular holiday for fireworks, however there are risks that come along with the national tradition. Gainesville Fire Division Chief Keith Smith said safety and proper use should be the main goal of an at-home fireworks show.
To start, Smith said be courteous to your neighbors with your show. Not everyone likes fireworks and some people have to travel or work the next day. Remember in Georgia, state law caps the time for celebrating with fireworks on the Fourth at midnight.
In general, Smith advises home fireworks shows to be in a clear area, away from other homes or people.
"You want to make sure you don't shoot it towards anywhere that could start a fire, especially people's houses. A firework that lands on someone's house, on the roof or something, ignites, explodes, does whatever it's supposed to do, could cause a house fire. And it's not even your house," said Smith. His rule of thumb is to not shoot fireworks towards any structure.
He said you need to have a bucket of water or a garden hose available in case of a dud firework. Duds are lit fireworks that do not shoot off.
"Douse it with a little water to make sure it's completely out," said Smith. "Trying to relight one... it may have gotten down to just before where it's supposed to shoot off or whatever, and with you standing over it trying to figure out what's wrong with it, you could end up with a serious injury."
While fireworks can be fun for kids, Smith said every fireworks show needs an adult and not to let little hands light fireworks or sparklers.
"Adults need to carefully watch that because those little sparklers can reach 2,000 degrees," said Smith. "If somebody's not paying attention to what they're doing, or they're a little too excited or something, you can drop it on your clothing, drop it on your skin. Your clothes could catch fire or melt, or melt to you. Touching directly to your skin could leave a nasty little burn."
Additionally, Smith encouraged those celebrating with alcohol to stand aside instead of playing with fireworks.
"There is an average of about 200 fireworks injuries a day around the Fourth of July holiday, so there's probably going to be some injuries, but we would really like to encourage people to be as safe as possible," Smith said.
Smith said to avoid all of the dangers of fireworks at your home, check out a professional show instead. A list of activities and fireworks in our area is available here.