After months of drought and dry weather that have made it easier for fires to ignite and spread throughout north Georgia and Forsyth County, those who want to welcome the New Year with a bang can do so.
Gov. Nathan Deal rescinded an executive order on Dec. 20 that had placed a ban on igniting consumer fireworks, allowing Georgians to use aerial fireworks on New Year’s Eve on Saturday night.
“Much of the state has received rainfall amounts sufficient for the State Forestry Commission and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to lift their bans on outdoor campfires, and the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner has determined that increased precipitation in recent weeks has diminished the threat posed by consumer fireworks,” Deal stated in the order.
Now that fireworks are on the to-do list for Dec. 31 festivities, here are 5 things to know about fire-works safety and laws.
1. When they can be used
Since aerial fireworks became legal in Georgia in 2015, legislators have passed additional laws to amend definitions and times that they are allowed to be used.
Last year, Georgians were allowed to shoot fireworks until 2 a.m. on July 4 and Dec. 31. This year, they can be used until 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and midnight on July 4.
On other days, fireworks can be used between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.
2. Where they can’t be used
Fireworks are banned in a public road, right of way or park, within 100 yards of gas stations, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, nuclear power facilities and water and electric plants.
3. Who can buy them
Anyone 18 or older can legally purchase fireworks in Georgia. It is illegal to use them under the influ-ence of alcohol or drugs.
4. How to use them safely
According to Forsyth County Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers, fireworks should be used according to label instructions and should not be used as a toy, as they can cause burns and serious injuries.
“We’re fortunate we’ve had rain, and we expect it to be a damp New Year’s Eve and day,” he said.
• Always shoot fireworks with other people around
• Never shoot them toward people, structures or tall brush or grass
• Douse fireworks that fail to go off with water and let them sit for “a number of minutes” be-fore disposing of them
• Never shoot them off in your hand
• Do not let children use sparklers, as they can burn hotter than normal fireworks
• Always have a water source nearby
• Keep pets indoors and give them a soft place to hide, as the sound can scare animals
5. What to do instead of shooting fireworks yourself
Shivers said the safest option is to attend a professional fireworks display, which are typically family-friendly and have activities.
Also, he said, call 911 in the case of any fire.