Are you planning to celebrate the Fourth of July by watching fireworks shows put on by professionals, or are you planning to light some of your own?
Drought conditions are still an issue, and the recent high temperatures have again dried out much of the state. It’s best to leave the fireworks to the professionals. However, if you plan to use your own, a little care and preparedness can make it safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Staying informed about the fire risk in your area is essential to keeping safe. This means educating yourself about current county burn bans, the local wildfire history and areas that have been at risk in the past.
Keep an eye on weather conditions, especially since we’re again experiencing dry weather and excessively increased temperatures. The National Weather Service issues alerts when there is an increased fire danger. You can find the National Weather Service watches, warnings, or advisories for Texas can be found here.
Currently, about 59% of the Brazos River Basin is experiencing some form of drought conditions. It is relevant to note that the two highest drought categories of Extreme and Exceptional drought, remain at 0%. The basin is experiencing 38% Abnormally Dry conditions, with 17% at the Moderate level and 4% at the Severe level.
Remember, consumer fireworks are illegal to have and use inside most city limits. Be sure to check your local city ordinances before lighting one up.
Be aware of burn bans in your area. Out of the 254 counties in Texas, only 59 are currently under a burn ban. Burn bans in the Brazos River basin remain in some counties in the northern basin area, above and to the west of Abilene.
Of the counties surrounding Brazos River Authority reservoirs, only Palo Pinto County, home of Possum Kingdom Lake, has an active burn ban in place.
However, care must still be taken with any type of outdoor burning, especially fireworks, since there’s no way to know exactly where it will land.
You can see a current map of burn bans here.
Safety is Key
Fireworks-related injuries and deaths in the United States have climbed by about 25% over the past 15 years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports.
In 2021, nine people died in incidents involving fireworks, while 11,500 were injured.
“It’s imperative that consumers know the risks involved in using fireworks, so injuries and tragedies can be prevented. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch the professional displays,” said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. In addition, he said, “CPSC’s Office of Compliance and Field Operations continues to work closely with other federal agencies to prevent the sale of illegal consumer fireworks.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers some tips to celebrate safely:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move quickly away from the fireworks device.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
- After fireworks complete their burning, to prevent a trash fire, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase and set off fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.
- Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
CPSC reported in 20211500 firecracker injuries and 1,100 sparkler injuries. The most injured body parts were the eyes, head, face, ears, hands, and fingers.
Alternatives to sparklers would be glow sticks that glow in the dark or even red, white, and blue silly string for daytime fun.
Fireworks Over BRA Lakes
Fireworks are not permitted on BRA property and are not allowed to be fired out over the water without written permission from the BRA.
Here are some areas in the Brazos River basin that are having professional fireworks shows:
- In the Upper Basin, Possum Kingdom Lake Chamber of Commerce is planning the Hell’s Gate firework show for July 8th. Additional activities around PK can be found here.
- Also in the Upper Basin, Granbury Chamber of Commerce will have its firework show on July 4th beginning at 9:45 p.m. They will set off behind the Pearl Street Bridge and can be seen all over town. A complete schedule of activities can be found here.
- In the Central Basin, the City of Waco is having its annual Fourth on the Brazos celebration on July 4th. Information can be found here.
- In the Lower Basin, the City of Sugar Land is holding its annual Red, White, and Boom celebration. Additional information can be found here.
While fireworks are a source of joy and celebration, it is crucial to prioritize safety when using them. Fireworks can pose significant risks if mishandled or used irresponsibly.
Following safety guidelines, such as purchasing legal fireworks, using them in designated areas, and maintaining a safe distance from flammable objects, can greatly reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries.
By following safety protocols, we can continue to enjoy the spectacle of fireworks while ensuring the safety and security of ourselves and those around us.