Editorial: This Fourth of July, leave the fireworks to the professionals

The Fourth of July -- the day we celebrate our nation's independence -- is just days away.

Along with the cookouts, time on the water and at the pool, colorful displays of fireworks are part of our Independence Day tradition.

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

You cannot have a large 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 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.

There are alternatives that the professionals are handling.

The City of Varnell and the Highland Forest subdivision host their annual fireworks show on Friday, the day before Independence Day, at about 9:30 p.m. The show is for residents of the subdivision and the city of Varnell.

The Dalton Parks and Recreation Department hosts a fireworks show on Saturday as part of its annual Fourth of July celebration.

The Dalton fireworks start between 9:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., depending on weather. The show will be at Heritage Point Park, 1275 Cross Plains Trail. The best place to watch the show is at the upper baseball/softball field, organizers say, and they are urging the public to practice social distancing guidelines, which include staying at least 6 feet away from each other.

Due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Dalton's usual robust Independence Day celebration has been scaled back. The food eating contests, Little Miss Rec competition, pro wrestling and other events were canceled. The Heritage Point east concession stand opens at 5 p.m. The pool at the John Davis Recreation Center, 904 Civic Drive, is open from noon to 5 p.m.

This year, the town of Cohutta canceled its annual Fourth of July celebration. In Murray County, their fireworks display has been pushed back to Friday, Oct. 16, to coincide with the annual Black Bear Festival, which features arts and crafts.

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