MACON, Ga. — The Fourth of July holiday is coming up, and many Central Georgians are preparing to celebrate.
Many celebrate with fireworks, which can pose a risk if used improperly. Here's what representatives from emergency departments in Central Georgia want you to know before it's time to party.
“We would prefer you to just go to a fireworks show, definitely, cause fireworks can be extremely dangerous,” Macon-Bibb County Fire Safety Education Officer Jeremy Webb said. “You want to use extreme caution when you use fireworks, at all times, because they can be catastrophic.”
If you want to use fireworks, first make sure:
1. You are be 18 years old or older
2. You're not under any type of influence of alcohol
3. You follow the manufacturer's instructions thoroughly
Webb said it is also important to wear closed-toed shoes, wear hand and eye protection, and make sure the fireworks are a safe distance from your structure. A water supply, like a bucket of water or a hose pipe, should be kept on hand. If a firework appears not to light, do not relight it, instead wait 15 to 20 minutes before touching it again.
"You want to make sure you protect yourself and protect everything around you.” Webb said.
Additionally, you want to make sure that the person selling you fireworks is licensed to do so.
It's also important to think about the recent weather in Central Georgia when choosing a spot to light fireworks.
“Right here in Macon-Bibb County, we’ve been experiencing a lot of dry weather, so that can definitely increase wood fires and grass fires and different things like that," Webb said, "So be mindful of that when you light off fireworks, you don’t want to light them off in extremely dry areas.”
Macon-Bibb residents are usually not allowed to shoot fireworks after midnight. On Independence Day and New Year’s Eve, the deadline is extended to 2 a.m.
The laws are slightly different in nearby Houston County, according to Patrick Alexander, a lieutenant with the Houston County Sheriff's Office.
Usually, Houston County residents cannot light fireworks off between 9 pm and 10 am, but there are some exceptions made for holidays. The window on July 4th is extended until 11:59 pm.
Alexander and Webb both recommend keeping pets inside the house while fireworks are going off and trying to down out the noise.
“It's loud and, unfortunately, there’s not anything even we can do about it,” Alexander said.
Chris Hogan is a graduating third-year resident and the Chief for Emergency Medicine at Piedmont Macon Medical Center. He said that the most common fireworks-related injuries he sees during the July 4th holiday are superficial burns.
Hogan said the hospital also sees an increase in patients suffering from panic attacks and PTSD symptoms.
“I’d say it’s probably a little more common during the Fourth of July when we got fireworks and air shows and stuff like that,” Hogan said.
Hogan said Piedmont has a behavioral health pod used to give people the medications and care they need during such incidents before being seen by a psych professional.
Holiday celebrations can also cause other injuries, including car accidents.
"As people are celebrating, we may see a little more vehicle accidents and injuries related to that,” Hogan said.
While staying safe should be a priority, make sure to have fun this holiday as well.
“I guess the most important thing is to have fun, be safe and just enjoy the holiday,” Hogan said.