Fireworks & a safe Independence Day
By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor
Pictured: BCC archives
Children enjoy a fireworks display at Pebble Beach.
Bandera County Fire Marshal John Stith wants all residents to have a happy - and safe - Independence Day on Friday, July 4.
"Since the county is no longer under a burn ban, all types of fireworks will be permitted this year," he said during a recent interview. "However, in the past, we've had a couple of potentially serious accidents, most notably a dock and barn that were set on fire when fireworks misfired," Stith said.
To help everyone celebrate America's 238th birthday - and still be around for the 239th version - Stith offered the following advice:
• Purchase ready-made fireworks rather than attempting to concoct your own - even from a kit.
• Make sure an adult is present when fireworks are being used and never allow children to handle fireworks - even sparklers.
• Purchase only legal fireworks that have instruction labels for proper use. Follow directions on the label carefully. Fireworks without instruction labels are probably illegal to use.
• Select fireworks appropriate for the area in which they will be used. For example, avoid using rockets or other aerials in a backyard or near a busy street. Choose fountain-type fireworks instead.
• When using fireworks, always have a bucket filled with water or a hose nearby. Keep fireworks away from dry leaves and other materials that can easily catch fire.
• Light just one firework at a time and keep the lit firework away from the others. Also, wear safety gear, such as eye protection. Never lean over the firework at any time.
• Never point fireworks toward people.
• If a firework misfires or fails to ignite, don't attempt to relight it. Stand back and observe it for a while. If you can reach it with a hose or bucket of water without getting too close, douse it with water.
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
• After fireworks are ignited, soak them in a bucket of water before discarding.
• If an eye injury occurs from fireworks, don't rub the eye or attempt to wash it out. Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room. Quick action can make the difference between saving a person's eye and that person being blinded permanently.
Stith also cautioned that should fireworks damage someone else's property, the person using the fireworks could be held responsible for damages. "Even with the rain we've had recently, I'm urging people to be responsible and think about their neighbors' property," he said.
Additionally, Stith added that fireworks can be used legally at any time of the year in unincorporated parts of the county except during burn bans and on "red flag" days. "However, fireworks are not always for sale," Stith said.
He also reminded everyone that fireworks are always prohibited in the City of Bandera.
Although there are no public fireworks displays scheduled this Independence Day in Bandera County, they are usually available in cities of Boerne and Kerrville.