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Red Cross, Newton government among agencies giving July 4 safety tips

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story updates an earlier version with additional information about legal use of fireworks.

Local and national agencies recently gave tips and suggestions for staying safe on this Fourth of July holiday.

The American Red Cross gave these tips to those planning to use their own fireworks this year:

- Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging. 

- Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.

- Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.

- Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”

- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

The Newton County government also posted information on its website about safety.

“The only safe way to view fireworks is to attend a professional show. With many professional fireworks shows being canceled this year, it is important to know that fireworks are not safe in the hands of consumers. Fireworks cause thousands of injuries each year.

State law regulates when, where and how individuals can use fireworks in Georgia — both on the Fourth of July and throughout the year.

It is OK “to use or explode or cause to be exploded any consumer fireworks on any day” between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight.

However, the time for legal usage expands to 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, July 3, July 4 and Dec. 31, the law states.

The person using the fireworks must be at least 18 years old to use or store fireworks in Georgia.

Those using the fireworks must be “lawfully present” when they are being used.

Fireworks also cannot be used within 100 yards of a “facility engaged in the retail sale of gasoline or the production, refining, processing, or blending of gasoline for such retail purposes” as well as within the same distance from a nuclear power facility.

However, they cannot be used indoors under any circumstances, according to state law.

The county government also offered a few ideas for getting into the patriotic spirit without fireworks:

Glow sticks glow in the dark, are a safe alternative to sparklers, and are fun for all ages, the website stated.

They also suggested noise makers, either homemade or from local party supply stores; red, white and blue silly string, which is also fun for all ages; or throwing  “a birthday party for the USA, and “don’t forget the cake!”

In addition to fireworks safety, the Red Cross offered safety tips on Fourth of July barbecues:

- Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.

- Never grill indoors — not in the house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.

- Make sure everyone, stays away from the grill, including children and pets.

- Keep the grill away from the house or anything that could catch fire. 

- Use long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.