Experts urge fireworks safety

LAWRENCEVILLE - Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John W. Oxendine and the National Association of State Fire Marshals urge parents to protect their children and themselves from the dangers of fireworks during the New Year's holiday.

The sale and individual use of any type of fireworks, except certain kinds of sparklers, is illegal in Georgia. The penalties are a maximum fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail. Professional fireworks displays are permitted, provided they are licensed through the local judge of probate court.

Oxendine said sparklers can burn at temperatures as high as 1,800 degrees, so they should be used properly and with adult supervision.

In 2004, emergency departments treated about 9,600 people for fireworks-related injuries in the United States, and eight people died from their injuries, Oxendine said.

Oxendine urged parents to remind children that if they find unexploded fireworks, they should not touch them and should immediately contact the local fire department.

Travelers can get road information

LAWRENCEVILLE - Travelers heading to Florida during 2007 can use the Florida Department of Transportation's free 511 and travel information service.

The service provides travelers detailed real-time information on traffic conditions, construction updates and severe weather alerts on all of Florida's interstate highways and Florida's Turnpike.

More than 83 million people are estimated to have visited Florida during 2006. Those planning to drive to Florida can call 511 from their cell phone and connect to the Florida system as soon as they cross the state line. The 511 system recognizes a caller's location and connects them to services in their immediate area. Web users can log on to from anywhere, including Florida's WiFi-equipped rest areas, to check out conditions along their planned route.

Visitors who plan to fly to central Florida can use 511 to easily access detailed local road and transit information, including flight and parking information at Orlando International Airport.

The phone system uses voice recognition, so callers simply ask for the roadway for which they want information, followed by a city or county name.

The 511 system is a free service of the FDOT and is accessible from land lines or cell phones.

Gwinnett Gab appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.