Stores across Texas are now selling Sparklers, Black Cats, Roman Candles, Ground Spinners, Poppers, and every other type of firework ahead of the Fourth of July. Families and friends will be eager to light up the night sky with colorful displays while celebrating the nation’s independence. But, the noise and excitement of firecrackers and sparklers can have their downside. From the cost to purchase the noisemakers to the potential for fires or even injury.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks start roughly 18,500 fires per year. Those fires caused an average of three deaths, 40 injuries, and an average of $43 million in direct property damage. Another 12,900 people in 2017 in the U.S. were treated in the ER due to firework-related injuries, according to the association.
Sparklers are themselves much more dangerous than people treat them. Sparklers burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to cause third-degree burns, according to the association. Compare that to how hot it takes to boil water – 212 degrees Fahrenheit- or how hot it takes to melt glass – 900 degree Fahrenheit.
And, depending on where you reside, fireworks of all kinds may be illegal. Many cities have outlawed the use of fireworks within city limits.
On first thought, shooting fireworks over the lake may seem like the perfect way to avoid unintentional grass fires. But what many people don’t realize is that fireworks debris pollutes our waterways where so many enjoy swimming, fishing, boating and where it’s eventually used for city drinking water. At Brazos River Authority reservoirs, Lakes Possum Kingdom, Granbury and Limestone, fireworks may be used on private property if allowable by local restrictions, but can earn the property-owner a fine if they are fired off from a boat, dock or over the water.
“It’s the same as throwing trash in the lake,” said Connie Tucker, Lake Granbury reservoir manager.
Since fireworks remains can cause pollution, violators can receive a fine of up to $500.
Rather than risk the cost, potential injury or a fine, a popular and safer way to celebrate July 4th is to enjoy a professional firework show on the Brazos River or at one of the Brazos River Authority reservoirs.
Sitting in a boat with family or friends on Lake Granbury, near City Beach, is a great place to watch the huge firework display put on by the city of Granbury, said Tucker. City Beach, 505 E. Pearl St., has restrooms and a boat launching ramp to access the water.
The city of Granbury puts on an impressive display with its huge Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration, Tucker said. But, don’t flock to DeCordova Bend Park on this particular night as the impressive firework display can’t be seen from this location on the reservoir, she said. Though the boat launching ramp at the park - located on the southeast end of Lake Granbury near the dam - is open if boaters want to start there and make their way closer to City Beach.
Another BRA reservoir would be an enjoyable location to watch professionals put on an inspiring fireworks display.
The Possum Kingdom Chamber of Commerce for the 32nd year will host a firework show at Hell’s Gate, at the south end of the reservoir, said Blake Kettler, Possum Kingdom Lake reservoir manager.
The event begins about dark July 6 and boaters typically flock to the reservoir to watch the colorful display from the water, he said. The closest launch points for boats is from Scenic Cove Campground, 3401 Scenic Point Road, or South D&, 2969 F.M. 2951.
Visitors can also enjoy the show from YMCA Camp Grady Spruce, located at the end of Park Road 36. Bring lawn chairs or a blanket and even a picnic and make an evening out of it. The YMCA gate will open at 6:30 p.m. and will close at 8:45 p.m., according to the Chamber’s website. Pets and alcoholic beverages will not be permitted. The chamber is raising money to help make the event possible and those who enjoy the event can donate to keep it going.
The holiday is a busy time for BRA Lake Rangers, Kettler said.
Traffic on the water, and on BRA public use areas, increases every year, which increases the need for every person to heed all cautions, he said.
“Be safe, be cautious when boating,” he said. “There will be a lot of traffic. Make sure everyone on the boat is wearing life jackets and you’re paying attention to other boaters on the reservoir.”
If you do choose to bypass the professionals and shoot off fireworks somewhere it is legal, remember these safety precautions from the National Safety Council:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- 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 fireworks indoors
- Only use fireworks 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