If you just gotta shoot off some fireworks, then follow these expert safety precautions

July 4 is just around the corner and the organized fireworks displays such as the one over Lake Peachtree in Peachtree City are a part of the annual observance. And legal or not, the national holiday always includes many other fireworks displays in neighborhoods across the area before the night is over. And July 4 is also a time to exercise caution and awareness when dealing with fireworks and the potential for injuries and fires that can quickly get out of hand.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety suggests that individuals exercise caution before, during and after fireworks displays.

“Fireworks are beautiful and add fun and excitement to holiday celebrations. But you must be fireworks smart when you use them,” said National Council Vice President Jack Leonard.

That awareness includes choosing a display area away from homes, buildings and dry vegetation, one where a garden hose can be used to wet down the area. Each fireworks device should be thoroughly soaked as it burns out and all used items should then be placed in a covered fireproof container away from homes and buildings.

Even the ubiquitous “sparkler” should be handled with care. The National Council recommends that sparklers never be used near an ignition source and that children under 12 should not use sparklers without very close adult supervision.

July 4 is not only a time for taking precautions with fireworks. Sparks from fireworks can pose a significant danger that should not be overlooked or minimized.

“Summer and the July 4 holiday are synonymous with fun. This year, safety precautions have to be a big part of that picture. With everybody’s help, we can prevent the tragedy of wildfire and enjoy this special time of year,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Chief of Protection Alan Dozier. “Conditions are very, very dry all over Georgia. That’s a big concern as people bring out fireworks to celebrate the Fourth.”

Dozier said most of the Georgia Forestry Commission’s forest rangers from throughout the state have been deployed to the south Georgia fires and only skeleton crews remain in many Georgia counties.

“Permits for outdoor burning are not being issued, and we certainly discourage use of fireworks unless organized and supervised by local officials,” Dozier said.

Dozier also urged Georgians to be vigilant about other outdoor activities involving fire, such as backyard grills, campfires, cigarettes, and even over-heated lawn equipment, all of which are capable of causing fires that can flare up and spread quickly. Farm activities are especially susceptible to fire occurrence during these unusual dry conditions, Dozier said.

For more information about current fire conditions, preventing wildfire and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit www.GaTrees.org.

For more information on fireworks safety tips visit www.fireworkssafety.org.