Police warn against celebratory gunfire, fireworks welcoming new year

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CLEVELAND (AP) — The cities of Columbus and Cleveland are again using billboards to remind people of the dangers of firing guns into the air to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Clear Channel Outdoor is donating billboard space for the warnings that began running Monday in various locations in both cities.

People around the country every year are killed and injured by falling bullets that have been fired into the sky. A bullet fired into the air can reach a speed of 300 feet per second as it falls, enough to penetrate skin and skulls.

“In any area, but especially in a densely populated urban area like Cleveland, the consequences of celebrating New Year’s Eve or any other occasion with a gun can be devastating,” Director of Public Safety Micheal McGrath said in a press release. “The intention may be a celebratory shot toward the sky, but the consequences of that moment can be disastrous for a neighbor or someone blocks away. We hope these billboards will catch the attention of the public and possibly prevent any type of injury or death.”

Police also warn against the dangers of celebrating New Year’s Eve with home fireworks displays. Fireworks are not only illegal to possess and discharge without a permit, but they also can be hazardous and ignite a fire.

In Cleveland, safety forces will be on duty throughout several neighborhoods on New Year’s Eve. Police, fire and emergency medical service personnel will also be on alert.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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