WAXAHACHIE — The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate the nation’s birthday. It is also a time to gather with family, friends and neighbors to remember the sacrifices given by so many.
While it is great to have fun on this holiday, don't forget about safety as part of the celebrations.
“First and foremost, fireworks are illegal within in the city limits. The ordinance reads that you cannot discharge or possess fireworks in the city limits. Don’t do it in town because the police will write you a ticket,” Waxahachie Assistant Fire Chief Randal Potter said. “We recommend going to public display’s instead of doing it yourself.”
Potter said that, despite the recommendation, he knows that residents are still going to shoot off fireworks to celebrate. He advises taking a few steps beforehand to keep everyone safe during the holiday.
“If you are going to discharge fireworks you need to seek permission from the landowner and do it outside the city limits. Don’t just stop on the side of the road and start shooting them off because you might cause a grass fire. Seek permission from the landowner,” Potter said. “Sometimes people have plowed fields that they will let you discharge your fireworks in. Instead of sneaking around and doing it just get permission from someone to go onto their property.”
Potter said mixing alcohol and fireworks could create a hazardous situation for everybody. He encourages people not to drink because it can impair judgment, which can lead to accidents happening.
“Don’t let little kids handle fireworks. They can watch. They don’t need to be lighting firecrackers and stuff like that because the possibility of burns and missing fingers is just too great,” Potter stated. “You don’t want to injury your child and feel guilty about it for the rest of your life. So don’t let them do it.”
According to the International Association of Firefighters, fireworks injure 9,300 people annual and 46 percent of those injuries are to the hands and fingers.
Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby said if residents are caught shooting off fireworks in the city limits they can face up to a $500 fine plus the confiscation of their fireworks. He added that residents are liable for property damage if fireworks start a fire or cause other damage. Waxahachie Police responded 60-90 calls each July 4 related to fireworks.
According to the National Fire Protection Association in 2011, fireworks caused estimated 17,800-reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage.
Red Oak Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Ben Blanton offers several tips to keep family and family safe this July 4. He recommends that residents,
• Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
• A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
• Keep a charged fire extinguisher within reach.
• Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and instructions before igniting.
• Wear safety glasses.
• Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
• Use fireworks on a hard, level surface.
• Use fireworks in a clear, open area away from buildings and vehicles. Never shoot fireworks indoors and avoid shooting fireworks in an area where there is dry grass or brush. Shoot fireworks away from homes and other flammable materials.
• Purchase fireworks only from a licensed and approved dealer.
• Do not point or throw fireworks at people.
• Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
• Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
• Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trashcan away from any building or combustible materials.
• Do not transport fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
• After the fireworks display is over, keep watch for fires for at least 30 minutes to assure that everything has been extinguished.
• Have a bucket of water, garden hose or another water source available for emergencies.
People who wish to see a professional display a see on at Waxahachie’s Crape Myrtle Festival will start 5 p.m. on Monday at the Waxahachie Sports Complex. The sports complex is located next to Howard Junior High, which is located at 265 Broadhead Road. Headlining the event is Def Leppard tribute band, Def Leggend, who will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. The fireworks will start at 9 p.m.
For more information about fireworks safety go to the NFPA website at www.nfpa.org.
For more information about the Crape Myrtle Festival go to the Waxahachie Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website at www.waxahachiecvb.com.