With only hours left in 2012, millions across the country will take part in the tradition of shooting off fireworks to ring in the new year, and state and local authorities have a few tips to keep in mind to make sure you end 2012 with a bang instead of a trip to the emergency room.
According to the S.C. Office of the State Fire Marshal, 208 fireworks-related fire incidents were reported in the state.
“These deceptively simple objects explode, throw hot sparks through the air and can often reach temperatures hotter than 1,200 degrees,” the office said in a statement.
Firecrackers are allowed in many of the unincorporated parts of Aiken County, but there are a number of rules and regulations that residents should be aware of before lighting up.
All firecrackers more than a quarter-inch in outside diameter are banned by a City of Aiken ordinance. They can be no more than 2 inches long and can contain no more than 4 grams of explosives.
Sgt. Jake Mahoney of the Aiken Department of Public Safety said the department normally receives calls regarding fireworks on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July.
“Personal safety hazards are obvious,” he said. “Injuries could result from burns or the explosion of the pyrotechnic.”
Mahoney said people using fireworks where they are permitted should not allow children to light or discharge fireworks.
“Make sure they’re either closely supervised by an adult or an adult is the one setting them off,” he said, adding that alcohol and fireworks are not a good mix.
Due to the dry winter, Mahoney said fireworks pose an increased fire hazard.
“There is a relatively high fuel load due to the dry winter we’ve had so far,” he said. “Brush fires and trash fires are not uncommon results of the use of fireworks, especially in residential neighborhoods.”
Residents are also asked to be courteous of their neighbors when using fireworks. Anyone who violates the city ordinance could face a fine of up to $445.
Fireworks won’t be the only safety hazard on New Year’s Eve – officers around the county will be out to detect and deter impaired drivers.
Aiken Public Safety, along with the North Augusta Department of Public Safety, the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies will be conducting DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols throughout the night.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Clemson University and hails from Williston.
— Read and follow label directions.
— Have an adult present.
— Buy from reliable sellers.
— Use outdoors only.
— Have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket).
— Light only one firework at a time.
— Experiment or make fireworks.
— Re-light a “dud” firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
— Give fireworks to small children.
— Throw or point fireworks at other people.
— Carry fireworks in your pocket.
— Shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
Safety guidelines source: National Council on Fireworks Safety