NORCROSS -- As upcoming holiday celebrations include fireworks, Gwinnett and state fire officials on Wednesday urged revelers to use caution.
Gwinnett Fire Marshall Stephen Hrustich and Georgia Fire Marshall Dwayne Garriss gave a demonstration to reporters at Gwinnett County Fire Station No. 11 in Norcross. Hrustich said fountain sparklers, smoke balls, snakes, ground spinners and pinwheels are legal and commonly labeled that they emit a shower of sparks. Illegal fireworks are typically any item that explodes or rises in the air, Hrustich said.
"It's important to understand what you're buying out there," he said.
The maximum penalty for using illegal fireworks, which is a misdemeanor, is $1,000 and/or a sentence of up to one year in jail, Garriss said.
Garriss said some sparklers can reach 1,800 degrees, which is about 900 degrees hotter than the temperature at which glass melts. To prevent injuries or property damage, Hrustich said to keep a bucket of water and a portable fire extinquisher nearby.
"We want people to celebrate responsibly and safely," Hrustich said. "After using a firework, keep it away from any structure or grass that may be combustible."
Fire response calls for grass fires and car fires rise somewhat during the New Year's celebrations, Hrustich said, but not at an alarming rate.
"Our goal is to prevent, and be proactive, and let our citizens know that it can be a hazard if they're not following instructions and thinking about safety," he said.
Fireworks safety tips:
-- Read and follow label directions
-- Wear eye protection, and never have any part of the body over the firework
-- Always have an adult present
-- Always have a garden hose or bucket of water nearby
-- Light only one firework at a time
-- Never re-light a "dud" firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water)