As many people prepare to ring in the New Year with celebrations and fireworks, safety is key to prevent injuries and fires.
First, it is important to know if your city has an ordinance regarding fireworks. Texas is usually firework-friendly, however, some communities and cities may have their own regulations in place. Lumberton Fire Chief Jeff McNeel says although your city may not have any laws against fireworks, it is best to try to be a good neighbor. Perhaps let your neighbors know if you intend to discharge fireworks; dogs, children, and some veterans may be sensitive to the noise. Additionally, there are neighborhoods that have HOA rules against fireworks.
When children are going to be involved in the fireworks activities, Chief McNeel advises to make sure a responsible adult is supervising. This person should be someone who knows how to use fireworks and will refrain from alcohol use as it may impair judgment. “Fireworks and alcohol don’t mix,” he says.
In order to help reduce the risk of fire, choose an outdoor area that is away from buildings, vehicles, and dry grass. McNeel says that the calls they receive most are regarding grass fires that have been caused by fireworks. He states that 200-300 fires in Texas are caused by fireworks. “We just want to make sure that people are in a place that will not create a problem. We want to keep fires from starting and make sure there are no injuries,” he said.
According to McNeel, in 2014 there were 10,500 emergency room injuries from fireworks; 1,400 of those visits were due to sparkler injuries. He said that most people do not realize that when you light as sparkler it gets to 1200 degrees; hot enough to melt glass and that sparkler is put into the hands of a child. He continues to say that 35% of those injured are less than 15-years-old. Five to nine-year-olds are the highest population of children who receive injuries. “Make sure you use the fireworks according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.”
The National Council of Firework Safety suggests that fireworks should be disposed by pouring water on them and placing them into a metal trash receptacle. It is also recommended that people should wear safety glasses while shooting fireworks. McNeel says the reason that safety glasses are recommended is that almost 40% of injuries are to the face or eyes. If that type of injury is sustained, the person should seek medical attention and if the injury is to the eyes, he says do not touch them or rub them.
“Probably the peak time as far as injuries and fires is around July, but January is significant. Use good common sense and adult supervision and only buy what you need. Enjoy a safe and happy holiday.”