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Fourth of July safety tips from local officials

Steam engines will soon parade down streets through Cumming, Forsyth residents decked in their red, white and blue attire while waving American flags.

While many in Forsyth County are busy preparing for their Independence Day celebrations, law enforcement agencies and the fire department, are reminding residents to stay safe on the roads, in the water and with fireworks in the air.


Though their bright colors and loud booms captivate many, fireworks can be dangerous if not handled properly, Forsyth County Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers said.

Legal fireworks include: 

• Bottle rockets

• Sky rockets

• Roman candles

• Firecrackers

• Sparklers  

• Smoke and punk sticks 

• Fountains  

• Missiles

• Novelties

• Crackle and strobe

• Parachutes  

• Wheels and spinners

• Sky flyers

• Display shells

• Aerial items (Cakes)

“Believe it or not, sparklers are one of the most dangerous forms of fireworks,” he said. “They seem relatively benign because they don’t shoot off — they’re not aerial devices — but a sparkler burns sometimes upwards of 2,000 degrees.

“They can be very, very dangerous and harm a lot of children, and 2,000 degrees will melt a lot of metals.”

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks

• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities

• Do not allow anyone under the age of 12 to handle sparklers or fireworks

• Never place any body part directly over or in front of fireworks when lighting the fuse

• Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting the fuse

• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully; wait a few minutes and then douse the dud in water

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap

• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers; the gunpowder can get on a person’s skin and cause burning

Fireworks Laws

Who can buy fireworks in Georgia?

A person must be 18 years old or older to buy fireworks. It is illegal to light fireworks under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

When can you light fireworks in Georgia?

New Year’s: until 1 a.m.

Fourth of July: until midnight

Any other day: Not after 9 p.m.

Where can’t you light fireworks in Georgia?

Private communities like HOAs, condos or apartment complexes may not allow fireworks at all, and it is illegal in the state to light fireworks on roads or highways or within 100 yards of a:

• Hospital

• Nursing home

• Prison

• Nuclear power plant

• Gas station or refinery



Over the last five years, Georgia has averaged 16 boating fatalities per year, according to Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver, assistant director of Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Division.


“There are those who make a lot of excuses for not wearing a life jacket,” he said. “Being a good swimmer is well and good, but when you’re in the water for an extended period of time, fatigue sets in and being a good swimmer isn’t going to do any good if you don’t have a lifejacket on.”

• Always buddy swim — never swim alone

• Always supervise children in the water

• If you’re on the river below Buford Dam, always heed the sirens warning of a pending dam release, and get off the river

• Don’t boat or swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs


According to a recent poll by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s “Barbecue Lifestyle, Usage & Attitude,” 75 percent of adults in the U.S. own a grill, 62 percent of which are gas-fueled. Shivers said while popular, grilling can also be dangerous if not done properly.

• Always grill outdoors on open decks or improved surfaces

• Never grill in a garage, and don’t light a grill indoors

• Keep children away from a grill at all times

• Don’t grill in high winds


The Georgia Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement officials remind residents to never drink and drive.

“Whether it’s the sheriff’s department or the men that work Lake Lanier, there will be a zero tolerance effort for drinking and driving or boating under the influence, period,” said Col. Mark McDonough, Georgia Department of Public Safety commissioner.

How to get home safe:

• “Tow to Go” — a free towing service provided by AAA and Budweiser, available from Friday, June 30 to 6 a.m. Wednesday, July 5

• Uber or Lyft — ride-sharing services

• Drive Sober, Georgia – app offers a list of free and safe rides home

• Cab