The Fourth of July will be here soon. Fireworks sales have started. Even though Terry County Commissioners did allow the sale of fireworks for the Fourth, please understand how very dry it is in most of Terry County. Fire is a real threat and could quickly get out of control in our West Texas winds. There is also the danger of injury to unsupervised children and adults who do not use common sense.
As of the latest drought monitor map, Terry County is in the Extreme Drought category in much of the County. Fireworks are fun and exciting, but certainly not worth the cost of burning up someone’s pasture, cattle or barns, or especially a house. Extreme Drought calls for Extreme Caution or waiting until a time when the drought has ended.
Sheriff Tim Click is urging people to be smart. “Use common sense. Don’t mix alcohol and fireworks. That is a lethal combination. Be sure you have permission, if you plan to shoot fireworks on private property, and clean up your mess.”
Terry County Judge Butch Wagner expressed pretty much the same sentiments. “I want everyone to please be safe and be mindful of where they are and be careful not to start pasture fires. And please, please clean up your mess! So many people end up having to get out on July 5th to clean up and down the roads where careless and thoughtless people have just left their mess on the roadway. We are better than that. Please take care of your trash before you leave.”
Police Chief Tony Serbantez reminds people, “Fireworks are illegal in the City Limits. We will be patrolling and writing citations for violators. And those who shoot fireworks out in the County need to be aware of their surroundings. It is so dry right now and grass fires can start and get out of control quickly. I would also urge people to please clean up after themselves.”
The mess left behind by fireworks revelers has been atrocious in years’ past. Many citizens get up on the next day and get out and clean up the trash left behind. Please be considerate, respectful and mature in your use of fireworks. It is YOUR responsibility to be cautious and to clean up.
Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks. The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals, and not to use any fireworks at home. They may be legal but they are not safe.
In 2017, eight people died and over 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents. Of these, 50% of the injuries were to children and young adults under age 20. Over two-thirds (67%) of injuries took place from June 16 to July 16. And while the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, an estimated 1,200 injuries were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers.
Additionally, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires.
If You Choose to Use Legal Fireworks
If consumer fireworks are legal to buy where you live and you choose to use them, be sure to follow the following safety tips:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
- 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
- Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
- 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
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
- Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
- Never use illegal fireworks
Better yet, grab a blanket and a patch of lawn, kick back and let the experts handle the fireworks show.
Sparklers Are Dangerous
Every year, young children can be found along parade routes and at festivals with sparklers in hand, but sparklers are a lot more dangerous than most people think.
Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet. According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers alone account for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total estimated injuries.
Consider using safer alternatives, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.
Enjoy the holiday, but celebrate safely! And clean up!