Grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, bonfires and fireworks are essential to any Fourth of July celebration. But these treasured traditions can also be the cause of injury and wildfire during some of the hottest and driest months in Texas. Fortunately, there are still ways for you and your family to celebrate this American holiday safely.
In Texas, firework retailers may legally sell fireworks beginning June 24 and ending at midnight on July 4, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. Fireworks for consumers, also known as 1.4G fireworks, are usually sold at local fireworks stands and stores during major holidays like the Fourth of July. The main ingredient in fireworks is gunpowder, classifying fireworks as hazardous substances under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Under the FHSA, the sale of dangerous types of fireworks are banned from being sold to consumers.
According to the National Safety Council, eight people died, and more than 12,000 people were injured from fireworks-related incidents in 2017 alone. U.S. hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated 9,100 people for fireworks-related injuries in 2018. In addition to these deaths and injuries, fireworks start an estimated 19,500 fires in the United States each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
And it’s not just major fireworks that cause injuries and fires. Sparklers are a lot more dangerous than most people think, as they can ignite quickly and cause severe burns.
“If you want to see fireworks, go to a public show put on by experts,” the U.S. Fire Administration said in a flyer. “Even sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and cause third-degree burns.”
However, there are alternatives to fireworks and sparklers that allow everyone to celebrate Independence Day safely.
First, there are plenty of professional fireworks shows going on this Fourth of July. You can check and see if there is a firework show near you in our July Basin Roundup by clicking here.
If you are interested in more than just viewing professional fireworks show, glow sticks are a safer alternative to a sparkler. They glow in the dark, come in different colors, and are fun for all ages. Noisemakers are also a fun alternative.
If you decide to use consumer-grade fireworks on your private property during the Fourth of July, be sure to follow these safety precautions provided by the National Safety Council.
- Always buy fireworks from an established fireworks retailer.
- Don’t allow children to handle fireworks.
- Never use fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Always wear protective eyewear while handling explosives.
- Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material.
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.
- Do not try to handle malfunctioning fireworks.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish fireworks.
- Never use illegal fireworks.
- Soak both used and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.
- Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
If you plan to use a bonfire to celebrate instead of fireworks, there are still tips that can help ensure that your festivities don’t cause any devastating wildfires.
For campfires, the U.S. Fire Administration recommends building your campfire at least 25 feet away from anything that can burn, including tents or shrubs. If you have an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, only use it outdoors and at least 10 feet away from anything that can burn—including your home. Always check if there is a burn ban in your county—you can check for burn bans by visiting the Brazos River Authority’s website.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, July is the peak month for grill fires, followed closely by June, May and August. Around 10,600 home fires are started by grills every year. When you need to grill all those hot dogs and hamburgers, bring your propane, charcoal, and wood pellet barbecue grills outside, as indoor use can cause a fire or even carbon monoxide poisoning. To avoid starting a fire, place the grill away from the siding of your house, deck railings and overhanging branches. While porches are a popular place to use grills, the U.S. Fire Administration does not recommend using the grill on a porch or balcony.
Keep your grill clean by removing grease and fat, as the buildup can increase the chances of starting a fire. If you use a charcoal grill, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container. And keep your children and pets away from the grill area—being near a grill can be dangerous for those who don’t understand how hot grills can become. For more information about grill safety, click here.
With these safety tips in mind, you and your family will have a safe and exciting Fourth of July celebration this year and for years to come.