For some families, no Fourth of July celebration would be complete without setting off fireworks in the yard after dark.
For those whose holiday plans include fireworks, the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department wants them to do so safely.
During a stop in Macon on Friday, State Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens discussed ways to use fireworks legally and safely.
Even legal fireworks should only be used with close adult supervision, he said. For the sake of safety and seeing a spectacular display, your best bet is to attend a professional show.
Explosive fireworks are illegal in Georgia, but sparklers, fountains and similar nonexplosive devices are legal and can be enjoyed safely if the right precautions are taken. Others, including firecrackers, skyrockets and cherry bombs, are illegal in Georgia and can draw a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.
Hudgens said about 8,000 people -- most of them children -- are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year while using fireworks. Sparklers can burn at temperatures as high as 1,800 degrees.
In a typical year, two-thirds to three-fourths of all fireworks injuries happen during the four-week period around the Fourth of July, he said, and fireworks usually start more fires nationwide than all other causes combined.
Macon-Bibb Fire Chief Marvin Riggins offered some safety tips for using fireworks:
Follow the directions printed on the fireworks box.
Always use fireworks outdoors.
Always have adult supervision when children are using fireworks.
If an item does not work, dont try to re-ignite it.
Always have a bucket of water nearby.
Riggins said that due to the current drought, grass is dry and conditions are prime for a fire. If youre using fireworks in a grassy area, he said, be sure to wet the ground first to prevent a grass fire.
Legal fireworks can be purchased in Macon at stores such as Kroger and Walmart.
To contact writer Liz Bibb, call 744-4425.