Texas Living

Firework Safety for the Fourth of July

By Laura Byrom 7.2.14

For many Americans, the Fourth of July isn’t complete without backyard barbecues, parades, and best of all, fireworks. While fireworks can serve as the perfect crescendo to any celebration, it’s important to be aware of potential environmental and safety risks. As we gear up for this year’s Independence Day festivities, it’s time for a fireworks regulations and safety refresher.

Scary Fireworks Statistics

Don’t become a safety statistic. The American Pyrotechnics Association and the National Council on Fireworks Safety (NCFS) conducted an intensive study of fireworks. Every year, the average is 9,300 serious injuries, and 40 percent of these result in blindness in one or both eyes.

Children younger than 14 account for more than 45 percent of serious injuries. And did you know 20,000 fires are caused each year due to fireworks? The highest offenders for serious injuries or death are firecrackers, sky rockets, and yes, sparklers (sparklers actually cause the most injuries on July 4th)!

Texas Fireworks Regulations

In Texas, burn bans and fireworks restrictions are determined by county government and city ordinances so before you partake, you’ll need to check with your local fire marshal to see if they’re legal in your area. Most cities in Texas prohibit the sale and use of fireworks within city limits and some even extend it to within 5,000 feet. Novelty items (snakes, snappers, sparklers, and poppers) however, can be sold and used within city limits. It’s also important to note that small rockets, commonly known as bottle rockets, are illegal in the state of Texas.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), has worked with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding making firecracker-type explosives, such as M-80s, Quarter Sticks, and “Adult Snappers” illegal across the country.

In 2012, most states allowed some types of consumer fireworks permitted by federal regulations. However, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Vermont were only allowed the use of wire or wood stick sparklers and other novelty items. States that banned all consumer fireworks were Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

No matter what you find online, contact your local fire department to find out if your fireworks are legal and where you are allowed to launch them. The Office of Compliance and Field Operations oversees enforcement activities of fireworks regulations through surveillance of imported products and by conducting routine inspections, focused on reducing the number of fireworks-related deaths and injuries.

Buying Fireworks Legally

US Fireworks, an online fireworks retailer, conveys the following message: “US Fireworks sells only consumer fireworks that have been certified by the CPSC. We can legally ship fireworks anywhere in the United States. Unfortunately, state and local ordinances may ban certain fireworks. As a result, the responsibility for complying with State and local laws falls upon you (the buyer).”

Visit Texas Fireworks Safety and call your local fire department (and neighborhood association if you have one) before the 4th, so you can kick back and enjoy the evening full of colors, safe blasts, and good memories.

Fireworks Safety

Fireworks can be dangerous when used improperly so be sure to follow these basic safety procedures:

  • Buy fireworks from an established retail outlet.
  • Read the label and follow all instructions and warnings on proper use.
  • Have a responsible adult present.
  • Before lighting fireworks, make sure that other people are at a safe distance.
  • Keep water or a fire extinguisher handy in case of emergency.
  • Light one firework at a time.
  • Never throw fireworks at another person.
  • Don’t allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light malfunctioning fireworks; instead, soak them in water and throw them away.
  • Soak used fireworks in water before throwing them away.

Storing Leftover Fireworks

Because there is no expiration date on fireworks, you can save any leftovers you may have for another time. Just wrap them in newspaper or packing paper and place them in a box. Then store the box in a cool, dry place that’s well ventilated.

Have a safe and memorable Independence Day!

© 2014 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance