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New Year’s is coming with a bang

Fireworks are a tradition when it comes to New Year’s Eve. Handling them with care and following local ordinances should be traditions, too.

Within the Brookhaven city limits, fireworks are illegal. Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins said he doesn’t want to be a party pooper, but his department will be enforcing the law. First offenders will be given a warning and second offenders will have their fireworks confiscated. For subsequent offenses, Collins said officers will be making an arrest — and when they do, they’ll be looking for an adult to be held responsible.

“I want everybody to have a happy and safe new year,” Collins said. “We’re here to protect everyone. We’ll do our best to be courteous and nice. But at some point, if people are not compliant we will have to arrest them. Adults are responsible for their kids.”

Collins said fireworks in the city are a fire hazard, and scare both people and pets. It can be difficult to tell the difference between fireworks going off and gunshots — another problem that the police department has on New Year’s Eve. Collins warned against people firing off their guns into the air. It’s something that could end in tragedy.

“They’re just as deadly when the bullet comes down,” Collins said. “I’ve seen incidents where it comes down from people’s roofs and just missed them. The bullet is inside the floor.”

In the county, fireworks are legal to enjoy. Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said it’s important for people to be aware of their surroundings when using fireworks, and to use them in the correct way.

“Be careful of where you are shooting them, because they can set the woods and grass on fire,” Galey said.

And the popular New Year’s Eve pastime among teenagers everywhere of shooting roman candles at each other — it’s not a good idea.

“I’m not sure of the temperature of that ball coming out of there, but I imagine it would burn you pretty bad,” he said.

Burns are a common injury during New Year’s celebrations, according to a news release from State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney. Even seemingly harmless fireworks like sparklers can cause injury, and supervision by a responsible adult is essential. The younger a person is, the more likely they are to get burned.

“The risk of fireworks injury is highest for young people ages 0-4, followed by children 10-14,” the release said. “Sparklers, often a favorite with children, accounted for 30 percent of injuries in 2014. They can reach up to 1,200 degrees, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.”

Chaney said to start off 2020 right — by being safe.

“I hope all Mississippians will begin 2020 safely, by carefully using fireworks,” he said. “Anyone choosing to handle fireworks this holiday needs to use caution. That’s especially important if young children are around.”

Despite the danger, setting off fireworks remains popular for local New Year’s celebrations. According to Joe Barron, who works at the fireworks stand across from 84 Chevron, part of it comes down to tradition, in addition to the obvious fun-factor. That tent on Hwy. 84 has gone up every year for decades, now. According to Barron, stand owner Brandon Hood has been selling fireworks since he was 10 years old.

“You’ll see a kid come in and slowly over time, every year (they will come),” Barron said. “It’s the same tent.”