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Experts urge caution when using sparklers over Fourth

Lt. Cydnie Taylor FIre & Safety Specialist demostrates having a bucket of water near by for sparklers to be sure they are put out.

Lt. Cydnie Taylor FIre & Safety Specialist demostrates having a bucket of water near by for sparklers to be sure they are put out.

COVINGTON -- With the Fourth of July showing up on the calendar in the middle of the week this year, some folks will have a short holiday, while others are making the most of the opportunity and adding the two days before or the two days after to make a long holiday weekend. Whatever the length of the holiday, area fire safety professionals are urging that citizens take the time to be safe when it comes to fireworks.

"We have had injuries in Newton County from fireworks," said Lt. Cydnie Taylor-Ridling, fire safety educator with the Newton County Fire Service. "The biggest majority of the incidents have been from children using sparklers without adult supervision or with an adult who is not educated on how to use sparklers safely."

Taylor-Ridling said the incidents have decreased in recent years as there has been a concentrated effort to educate the public on firework safety.

"Educate yourself, your family and follow the guidelines for firework safety," she said. "After all, these guidelines were developed because of a previous unfortunate occurrence."

Even though all types of fireworks are for sale in neighboring states, only sparklers and low-explosive fireworks are legal in Georgia. Other types of fireworks that are permissible for use in Georgia include those known as snake and glow worms, trick noise makers which include paper streamers, party poppers, string poppers, snappers and drop pops.

Penalties for the sale and individual use of other types of fireworks are a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and/or a sentence of up to one year in jail.

But even with these types of devices, experts point out that injuries occur and parents should remember that sparklers are not toys and can inflict serious burns and injuries. Statistics show that more than half of sparkler-related injuries happen to children under the age of 14, according to the National Council on Fireworks Safety.

The Council offers several safety tips for parents to remember in keeping children safe while using sparklers and other devices over the Fourth of July holiday.

-- Obey the local laws and use common sense.

-- Always read and follow instructions. Always have an adult present.

-- Keep burning sparklers away from clothing and flammable objects.

-- Only use sparklers outdoors, away from buildings and vehicles.

-- Light only one sparkler at a time.

-- Alcohol, fireworks and sparklers do not mix. Be responsible.

-- Do not point or throw sparklers at another person.

-- Children under the age of 12 should not handle sparklers.

-- When finished, place used sparklers in a bucket of water.

-- Travelers should also be reminded that the FAA prohibits fireworks of any kind on any flight. They cannot be checked as baggage or carried on.