This Fourth, put safety first, Augusta Fire Department says
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Augusta Fire Department reminds local residents that although the Fourth of July is a fun time for family and friends to gather and celebrate, it can also be dangerous if proper safety measures are not taken into account.
In 2020, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported at least 18 people died from fireworks-related incidents, and about 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries.
“We don’t want a celebration to turn into a tragedy,” said Jason DeHart, Augusta Fire Department, EMA.
Since 2020, the Augusta Fire Department has responded to 26 fireworks-related incidents during the Fourth of July holiday period. Those incidents have damaged homes, vehicles, property, and yards.
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According to National Fire Protection Association, more than 19,500 reported fires are started by fireworks annually.
“There is not a safe way to use a firework,” he said.
It’s a busy time of year for the Augusta-based Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America.
“Whether due to an accident or misuse, BRCA typically sees a pretty significant uptick in fireworks-related incidents on or around the Fourth of July,” states Dr. Rizal Lim, a plastic surgeon with BRCA.
“While injuries and severity may vary, the most common affected areas include hands and fingers, head, face, ears, and eyes.”
Georgia law states that fireworks can lawfully be used on July 3 and 4 from 10 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy fireworks, for people to buy fireworks from an unlicensed vendor, or to use fireworks while drinking alcohol.
“The reality is we will respond to emergencies on the Fourth of July weekend, and we are hoping they are minor,” said DeHart.
Augusta Fire recommends you never mix alcohol with shooting fireworks, don’t aim them at people or property, and always keep a bucket of water close by.
“Fires can get out of control extremely quickly. We’re talking seconds,” he said.
Fire Chief/EMA Director Antonio Burden said: “For all of the fun and joy we get from watching fireworks, there is an inherent risk that comes with using them. If you choose to shoot off fireworks during the holiday, please take every safety precaution you can because things can go wrong in an instant.”
Augusta Fire/EMA recommends people take the following safety steps while using fireworks:
- Never drink alcohol and shoot fireworks.
- Always keep a bucket of water, or some other form of extinguishment nearby to douse fireworks.
- Never shoot fireworks over other people’s homes.
- Never shoot fireworks at other people.
- Keep fireworks away from any flammable substances.
- Give yourself a 10-foot safe zone.
- Never re-light a firework that doesn’t go off the first time.
- Watch for children and pets.
- Leftover fireworks can be dangerous, be sure to canvas the area to retrieve, and properly dispose of any used pyrotechnics.
- After all of your pyrotechnics have been used up, fill a large bucket with water and completely submerge all of the shells and encapsulated pieces, this should render the explosive ingredients inert.
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