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Hidden Hazards: Safety tips for July 4th Firecrackers, fireworks, pyrotechnics

By Bandera County Fire Marshall John Stith and Bev

Be safe. Have fun. And remember: Fireworks are
explosive devices
Hidden Hazards, part 2 of a 10-part series to keep you safe this summer

By Bandera County Fire Marshall John Stith and Bev Barr

Summer is officially here and with it a typical drying trend in Bandera County that increases the likelihood of brush fires, wildfires — and the kind that start accidentally because of fireworks. In the United States, approximately 20,000 fires are attributed to fireworks every year, and fireworks are responsible for more than $35 million in property losses.
“We’re not in a burn ban,” Fire Marshall John Stith said, “but as usually happens this time of year, there is a drying-out trend that improves the conditions for fires. People need to be careful.”
More than 12,000 people are treated for fireworks-related injuries in the United States every year and children account for half of those injuries, according to information Fire Marshall Stith researched on the Internet. And, importantly, approximately 26 percent of injured children are innocent bystanders.
“Shooting fireworks is inherently dangerous,” Stith said. “Something as simple as a sparkler burns at temperatures of up to 1,800 degrees. That’s hot enough to melt gold!”
And yet no matter how dangerous firecrackers, fireworks and pyrotechnics may be, they are about as American as apple pie. We buy close to a quarter-of-a-million pounds of fireworks in the United States every year.
With the 4th of July around the corner, our fire marshal sent a list of safety tips to help keep us from getting burned while celebrating this Independence Day.
We at the Courier think are worth reviewing often.
Check local regulations
Before purchasing fireworks, check your local regulations regarding fireworks use. Many communities do not allow fireworks to be used inside the city limits or in a barn (fore example). Some communities have age limits for buying fireworks, et cetera. In Bandera, it is illegal to sell, use, shoot, discharge, explode, ignite, display or manufacture any fireworks within the city limits.
”There are no designated county sites in Bandera, and it’s illegal to shoot fireworks from the side of the road.” Stith said. (You can review the city ordinance for fireworks at the city’s website, cityofbandera.org, Chapter 5, Section 8.01.004.
Buy legal fireworks
Always buy fireworks from an accredited company that sells legal fireworks. In Bandera County, there are number of places licensed to sell fireworks and Fire Marshal Stith inspects them all.
“The industry does a good job self-regulating themselves,” Stith said, “but I inspect fireworks stands to make sure they meet the requirements of law.”
Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
Fireworks are explosive devices. Treat them as such. If fireworks are exposed to moisture — even humidity — they will most likely be ruined.
Choose a safe location
The safest locations for fireworks are open areas with a connected water hose or other ample water source nearby. Always have a bucket of water at hand.
Keep a bucket of water nearby
At the very least, always have a bucket of water at hand. (This important tip is worth repeating.)
Follow instructions
For safe use, be sure to read and follow instructions as printed on the packaging. They are there for a reason.
Dispose of fireworks properly
Allow used fireworks to stand for at least 20 minutes, and then soak the remaining tubes and materials in water; drain the saturated tubes and related materials; place in a plastic bag and dispose outside in a covered trashcan.
Be considerate
of others
Many people and animals are sensitive to the loud noises fireworks can generate. The sounds of fireworks act as an emotional trigger for many military and veterans who suffer from PTSD.
Protect your pets
Pets should be kept away from the excessive noise of fireworks displays and kept in a place where they won’t run off when spooked. Protect your pets from fireworks packaging, too.
Never allow children to handle or operate fireworks
Closely supervise children around fireworks at all times. Do not encourage or allow children to pick up used pieces of fireworks, which may still ignite or explode. Burns and other injuries can result in scars or disfigurement that will last a lifetime.
“Just be careful,” Stith said as a reminder. “Supervision will go a long way in preventing accidents.”