Editorial: Play it safe, attend public fireworks displays

The Fourth of July is less than a week away, but traditional sky-lighting festivities for the public kick off tonight in the area.

Some area residents may like to do their own fireworks show, especially now since Georgia made some fireworks legal. Those limited items are mostly variations of sparklers and fountains.

Basically you cannot have a big device that has an airborne projectile or has a report or explosion. The sale and use of most consumer types of fireworks, including firecrackers, skyrockets and cherry bombs, is still illegal in Georgia and punishable by a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail, according to state Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner's Office.

And there are restrictions on "home use." On most days, fireworks can't be used after 9 p.m. On July 3, 4 and Dec. 31, fireworks can set off until 11:59 p.m. An exception is made for Jan. 1, when fireworks can be used from midnight to 1 a.m., meaning the night of New Year's Eve you can use fireworks an hour past midnight.

There are also other restrictions for using fireworks, according to an internet post by the Dalton Police Department. It is illegal to use fireworks:

• Within 100 yards of a hospital, nursing home or health care facility.

Within 100 yards of an electric plant or water treatment plant.

Within 100 yards of a facility that sells flammable liquids or gases.

Within 100 yards of an electrical substation.

Inside any park, historic site or recreational area owned by a governing authority without a special permit.

It is also unlawful to use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

And let's not forget the dangers involved in handling fireworks, not only to yourself and others but to property that can be damaged or set on fire.

Are there alternatives? You bet. And they offer plenty of pyrotechnics for the most ardent fireworks fan.

Let's start with tonight. Head over to Eton, where the city puts on its show in the old Eton Park. Festivities begin at 5 p.m. The fireworks start after dark, around 9:30 p.m., here and at the following events.

On Saturday, the Murray County Parks and Recreation Department puts on a fireworks show at its park at 745 Chestnut St. in Chatsworth, across from Murray County High School. Activities begin at 3 p.m.

In Whitfield County, things kick off on Wednesday when the city of Varnell co-sponsors fireworks shows with the Highland Forest subdivision and the town of Cohutta. The Highland Forest show is Wednesday at the subdivision's park and the Cohutta show is Thursday at Shugart Park.

In Dalton, Dalton Parks and Recreation Department plans its annual event at Heritage Point Park. Festivities begin around 1 p.m.

So why go through the hassle, time, costs and the risks of injuries to set off your own fireworks when there are several opportunities to get out and enjoy fireworks displays that undoubtedly will be more spectacular — and safer — than anything you do at home?

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