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Preparing for the Fourth of July, safety tips

Posted at 9:42 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 22:42:57-04

BRYAN, Texas — With the Fourth of July coming up in less than two weeks, we spoke with some local emergency officials to make sure you’re in a safe area before celebrating.

“Make sure there isn’t a fireworks ban and also make sure there are no ordinances against the use or display of fireworks in your local area,” said Harvie Cheshire, Fire Chief, South Brazos County Fire Department, ESD1.

Several counties in the Brazos Valley are under a burn ban tonight.

The Texas A&M Forest Service says, burn bans happen when drought conditions can cause a threat of wildfire.

County officials make the orders for burn bans.

“Due to the current drought conditions in our county, we are under a burn ban,” said Shelly Butts, Emergency Management Coordinator, Madison County. “We have been under a burn ban since June 14.”

The emergency declaration burn ban can only last seven days.

As of today, the burn ban does not prohibit all outside burning and allows fireworks.

Chief Jason ware with Brazos County Emergency Management says our drought index is on the rise.

“With continuous days of 100-degree temperatures and very little rainfall, our grasses have cured, meaning they have dried out considerably and it can ignite fairly easy,” said Chief Jason Ware, Deputy Emergency Coordinator for Brazos County.

We learned that most injury statistics come from fireworks.

“Each year in the United States, believe it or not, there are approximately 19 thousand fireworks-related injuries,” said Chief Cheshire.

Chief Cheshire says 28 percent of those 19 thousand injuries are hands and fingers, making them the biggest injury point.

He says the number one rule of lighting fireworks is to not leave it up to children.

“Number one, never allow small children to handle any fireworks,” said Chief Cheshire. “Approximately 10 percent of all fireworks injuries happen to ages between one and four years old. That’s way too big.”

Chief Ware says what goes up must come down, and sometimes with a bang.

“There’s certain types of fireworks that will once they go up, there’s a part that will return to Earth,” said Chief Ware. “The sticks and the fins which could be burning and could ignite a fire.”

Of all fires reported, Chief Cheshire says 28 percent of them are caused by fireworks.

Chief ware says he’s seen buildings and homes catch fire from fireworks in the Brazos Valley.

“Two years that I’ve been doing this, we’ve had a couple of buildings or homes burn because of fireworks,” said Chief Ware. “Improper disposal in a garbage can, can cause a fire.”

Butts says never try to relight a firework.

“Never try to relight or pick up a firework that didn’t ignite fully,” said Butts. “We want to get our money's worth, but this is not the time to do that. Discard that and make sure it’s doused with water so it doesn’t ignite on its own.”

With several counties under a burn ban, it’s important to know if yours is too.

“The largest fire can start from the smallest ember and that’s something we need to remember,” said Butts. “A lot of the times we forget that just lighting a simple firework can set off a chain of negative events that we don’t want to have to deal with anywhere.”

Butts also says wearing protective eye gear, keeping a charged hose on standby, and putting fireworks in a metal can after they have been doused with water.

More firework safety tips can be found here:

Texas Forest Service Burn Ban Map: (WILDFIRES AND DISASTERS | TFS (tamu.edu))

National Fire Protection Association: NFPA

Texas Department of Insurance: State Fire Marshal (texas.gov)