Fourth of July fireworks safety tips
With the cancellation of community fireworks shows in Burnet and Llano counties, residents might be putting on their own Fourth of July displays.
After all, what’s July 4 without bottle rockets bursting in the air?
Like many people, Marble Falls Fire Marshal Thomas Crane loves fireworks on Independence Day.
“Ever since I was a kid,” he said with a smile. “Just what it symbolizes and the excitement of it. I like the beautiful colors in the sky, just like every other kid.”
Kingsland Volunteer Fire Department Chief Danny Stone agreed.
“I always have (loved fireworks),” he said. “Fireworks are just fun on their own.”
But before you light that fuse, know the law and safety tips.
First, setting off fireworks within city limits is illegal, except for in Kingsland, which is unincorporated.
On the safety side, people should follow a new rule amid the COVID-19 pandemic: social distancing of 6 feet from those not in your household.
Also, read the instructions on each firework to know how to safely light each one, Crane said.
“Most fireworks stands usually have safety tip pamphlets,” he said. “Ask for them. Use fireworks as they say on the packages and always follow those directions. People misuse fireworks, and that’s when they get hurt. Ninety-nine percent of all fireworks injuries occur because of misuse of fireworks.”
Crane said the person lighting the fuse should ensure others are at a safe distance beforehand.
“Stay far enough away from any kind of misfire so it won’t affect you,” he said. “I know if it was me, I’d want spectators 25 to 30 feet away from the starter. I recommend 50 feet from spectators.”
Stone said people should examine the area on which they are lighting fireworks, noting the Texas heat is drying grass and creating a flammable situation. He also recommends people not use short lighters or matches.
“Don’t shoot them near your house or someone else’s house,” he said. “At fireworks stands, normally, they give a glow stick that glows on the end like a burning ember on a stick. It stays lit during the time you’re (lighting the fireworks).”
Have a water source or bucket nearby and don’t keep trying to light a firework that won’t ignite. Any fireworks that go into the water bucket should stay there for several hours.
“If it doesn’t work, don’t try to make it work,” Crane said. “A lot of times, the fuse goes out. So if it’s lit, it’s so close that it explodes (close to the person lighting it). If a firework doesn’t work, place them in a bucket of water and don’t reuse them.”
Sparklers are favorites of children, but both first responders noted that while they won’t get “boiling” hot, they can sting. As a safeguard, Crane recommends adults watch closely to ensure children hold the sparklers away from their bodies and with enough distance from each other and put the sparklers in a water bucket when done.
“It’s not a very hot type of firework,” Crane said. “Because they spark, it could burn hands. So wear closed-toe shoes and non-flammable gloves. Most of things we see are burns to the hands or toes. Make sure they hold them at arm’s length all the way out. And parents shouldn’t hold children who have sparklers. People don’t realize when sparklers are done, they’re still hot, so don’t drop them on the ground.”
“On the small stuff, be careful with your eyes and where the sparks are going,” Stone said.
Other tips include:
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear.
- Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands.
- Never light them indoors.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.
- Never ignite devices in a container.
- Never use illegal fireworks.
Both Stone and Crane said that following these tips will ensure people remember this Fourth of July for fun reasons.
“It’s all a challenge for the ones doing it,” Stone said. “You need to be safe. The main thing is to be safe and judge your distance by the fireworks you’re using.”
“I hope everyone has a great Fourth,” Crane said. “And use some common sense when viewing or firing fireworks.”