As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services is urging citizens to use extreme caution to avoid fires and serious injuries when using fireworks this Independence Day.

“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks display,” Fire Chief Tim Prather said in a news release.

In 2018, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 people for fireworks-related injuries. Half of those injuries were to the extremities, and 34% were to the eye or other parts of the head. Children younger than 15 years old accounted for more than one-third (36 percent) of the estimated 2018 injuries.

Safety is the utmost factor in having a happy Fourth of July. In 2018, fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries and $105 million in direct property damage.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of yearly celebrations have been cancelled or postponed. For those planning on hosting their own celebrations, be sure to follow all safety precautions with the fireworks while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

In 2015, the sale and use of most consumer types of fireworks, including firecrackers, skyrockets and roman candles, became legal to use in Georgia. Chief Prather offers the following fireworks safety suggestions for this Fourth of July.

♦ Purchase all fireworks from a licensed fireworks dealer.

♦ Observe all state laws regarding the use of fireworks.

♦ Read the labels carefully before igniting any fireworks.

♦ Ensure that an adult supervises all firework activities.

♦ Never allow children to ignite

♦ fireworks.

♦ Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.

♦ Light only one firework at a time.

♦ Only use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.

♦ Never try to relight a firework.

♦ Have a garden hose or bucket of water nearby.

♦ Use caution with animals. Excitement, nose and lights can cause fear and stress.

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