Tips for Igniting Aerial Fireworks this 4th of July

Common sense should keep you away from Urgent Care and hospital emergency rooms as the fireworks laws change in Georgia.

For years Georgians had to cross state lines to purchase aerial fireworks.  Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida have sold both ground-based and aerial consumer fireworks for consumers since the 90’s.

History of Fireworks in Georgia and What Has Changed

Prior to 2005, all types of fireworks were illegal in Georgia.  In 2005, Georgia relaxed its prohibition on fireworks by allowing sparklers and small, non-explosive fireworks. These are typically fountains that “emit showers of sparks,” and small spinners.

Earlier this year, Georgia House Bill 110 was passed allowing the regulation and sale of consumer fireworks (also known as 1.4G fireworks).  It is still illegal for consumers to possess or sell large professional fireworks (also known as 1.3G or display fireworks).  What determines the difference between classes of consumer and display fireworks?  Primarily it’s the composition and weight of the products.  Most heavily regulated is aerial shells which are typically launched from a firing tube.  The maximum weight for consumer shells is 60 grams (about 2 ounces) and no larger than 44 millimeters (about 2 inches in diameter).  The largest professional display fireworks in the world are just over 1200 millimeters wide – a whopping 4 feet in diameter!

Lawmakers who voted to approve the new law argued that the sale of consumer fireworks would bring much needed tax revenue to Georgia, create jobs, and keep millions of dollars of revenue from flowing out of the state every year.   The new sales tax on consumer fireworks is expected to raise an estimated $10 million each year with a large portion of which will go to increasing Georgia’s emergency services budget.

While legalizing consumer fireworks, it’s important to know that the recent change in Georgia’s law makes it illegal to release flying Chinese lanterns or any other type of device into the air that requires fire for propulsion, or to release floating lanterns on any public waterway.

The changed law in Georgia also makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy, use, possess, manufacture, transport or store consumer fireworks.

5 Important Things to Know about Georgia’s New Fireworks Law

  1. Georgians can now legally purchase fireworks including sparklers, roman candles, bottle rockets, and shell/mortar aerial products. The weight/size limit on aerial shells is 60 grams and/or about 2” in diameter.
  2. The law stipulates that those “igniting” or lighting fireworks must be at least 18 years old. If you allow your child to ignite consumer fireworks, and they end up in urgent care of the emergency room due to injury, you may be arrested!
  3. Previously, consumers had to travel to bordering states for fireworks.  Businesses are opening stores in metro Atlanta pending approval by state agencies.
  4. Consumers purchasing fireworks in Georgia will pay an extra 5% at the register – in addition to regular state and local sales taxes.
  5. You probably do not live within 100 yards of a nuclear power plant or gasoline station! However, it’s important for you to know that if you do, never ignite fireworks near these facilities.  The new law makes you liable assuming, of course, you survive the accident you caused!

Recommendations for The Safe Use of Fireworks

These suggestions should be obvious.  However, if you have never handled consumer fireworks, consider these tips!  They are sure to keep you out of urgent care facilities or the emergency room.

  • Always read and follow directions on the label.
  • Only adults at least 18 years of age can legally ignite fireworks.  Keep your children at least 30 yards (about 100’) away from aerial fireworks.  Always make sure aerial fireworks are in a flat and level area away from anything flammable.
  • Keep a water hose and a garbage can of water nearby,  If a firework is deemed a “dud after not going off once ignited, do not stand near it to see what is wrong.  Wait for 15-20 minutes then put the dud into a garbage can full of water.
  • If you plan to ignite aerial fireworks, keep a number of large heavy towels soaked in water very close surrounding your launch area.  If an aerial is lit and then knocked on its side towards spectators, you should have time to get behind it and throw a wet towel over it.  Never approach an aerial that has been lit that is facing you.
  • Always keep a water source very close by.
  • Never consume alcohol and ignite fireworks.  Alcohol slows your reaction time if something goes wrong.
  • Never light fireworks in a drought situation.  It’s a very good thing for the rain to fall a day or so before you plan to ignite fireworks.  Always obey and follow local announcements if conditions are dry and fireworks are forbidden.
  • Light fireworks one at a time.  Lighting multiple fireworks can knock over or ignite other fireworks injuring yourself or others.  Professionals use very specialized equipment to keep multiple displays safe.

When in doubt, let the professionals entertain you!

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