Whitney Johnson rearranges a box of fireworks while waiting for customers at the TNT Fireworks tent at the Covington Crossings Shopping Center near Kmart. The fireworks proceeds benefit Georgia Preparatory School in Conyers. (Staff photo: Julie Wells)
COVINGTON — While fireworks are bright and beautiful in the sky, there are many precautions to take before lighting the fuse.
Although sparklers and similar non-explosive fireworks devices are legal in Georgia, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens urges citizens to use extreme caution to avoid injuries when using legalized fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday.
“Even legal fireworks should only be used with close adult supervision,” Hudgens said. “For the sake of safety and seeing a spectacular display, your best bet is to attend a professional show.”
Covington is just one of the many cities that will put on a fireworks show this year starting around 9:40 p.m. on the Square on July 4. Porterdale resident Robert Foxworth, who helped raise funds for the show, said there will be 750 total shots that are 3-, 4-, and 5-inch shells and the show will last 17 minutes. However, the grand finale will feature 430 shots and will last about 53 seconds, which comes out to eight shots per second.
“I’m telling you, it’s going to be incredible,” Foxworth said. “It’s going to be really something to see.”
Foxworth has been helping collect donations for Covington’s fireworks for a couple of years now. As a former Porterdale City Council member, Foxworth also helped collect donations for that city’s celebration for three years.
If citizens decide to shoot their own fireworks, Hudgens said consumers might be confused when they discover certain types of fireworks on sale. Sparklers and fountains are not classified as fireworks by law and are legal and available for sale or use.
Hudgens said sparklers can burn at temperatures as high as 1,800 degrees and must be used properly and with adult supervision.
“Around 8,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year for fireworks-related injuries,” Hudgens said, “Most of those incidents involve children.”
In a typical year, two-thirds to three-fourths of all fireworks injuries occur during the four-week period surrounding Independence Day. On the Fourth of July itself, fireworks usually start more fires nationwide than all other causes combined.
The sale and use of most consumer types of fireworks, including firecrackers, skyrockets and cherry bombs, is still illegal in Georgia and punishable by a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.