OUR VIEW: Be safe this holiday

Weather reports are predicting a soggy week for Fourth of July activities, but that won't stop folks from celebrating our nation's birth by traveling to see friends and relatives or participating in their own fireworks displays. It also shouldn't stop people from practicing safety, both on the road and at their homes.

In fact, the downpours predicted for today and Thursday could make for difficult driving conditions. And with plenty of people on the roads -- AAA Travel predicts more than 960,000 Georgians will travel at least 50 miles from home at some point over the Fourth of July holiday period, caution is urged. We remind you to buckle your seat belts, follow the speed limit and don't be in a rush to get to your destination.

On the home front, safety should also be practiced. The Gwinnett County Fire Department encourages residents to leave the big fireworks to the professionals and enjoy one of the local shows planned throughout the county. For those who want to use "legal" fireworks -- defined as the "sparkler" type: including fountains, sparklers, smoke balls, snakes, ground spinners, pinwheels and most novelty fireworks (including crackling ground items) -- the fire departments recommends following these rules:

-- Never give fireworks to children.

-- Store "sparklers" in a cool dry place, away from any open flame.

-- Always keep a bucket of water, a garden hose, or a fire extinguisher nearby.

-- Allow enough room when lighting to ensure proper functioning.

-- Never light fireworks in windy or stormy conditions.

-- Only light fireworks on firm stable ground outdoors, and away from buildings and vehicles.

-- When weather conditions are dry and hot, don't use any fireworks.

-- Light one firework at a time and use a punk or BBQ/fireplace lighter to keep a safe distance away.

-- Never attempt to fix or re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.

-- At the end of the night, inspect the place where you lit the fireworks and the surrounding area to double check that there are no fires that may have started from the sparks. Wet the area thoroughly, just to be sure.

-- Soak all spent and malfunctioning fireworks in a bucket of water for several hours before discarding them in the trash.

--Store leftover fireworks in a cool, dry place, out of the reach of children, pets and open flames.

We hope the aforementioned recommendations lead to a happy and safe, Fourth of July celebration.