Caution Urged when Handling Fireworks
by: Pat Hernandez, July 2, 2009 4:07:07 am
The 4th of July marks this country's celebration of freedom and the easiest, most exciting way is with fireworks. Easy in the sense that many people will attend a professional event like the annual city of Houston celebration at Eleanor Tinsley Park. Harris County Fire Marshall Mike Montgomery says the hot and dry conditions could mean extra work for firefighters.
"In the unincorporated county we have an outdoor burn ban in effect, but also the judge has declared a local disaster that outlaws the use, sale and transport of two particular types of fireworks in the county. These are stick rockets and missiles with fins. We encourage everyone to please be careful. Most important, never leave children unattended if you're going to use fireworks. Any firework can cause a fire if used improperly, and you need to be on your guard especially in these dry and hot weather conditions."
But some may consider exciting doing it yourself. Unfortunately, many of these celebrations can quickly turn into a nightmare. Dr. Chris Souders is the associate medical director with the Houston Fire Department. He says emergency rooms can get busy with injuries related to fireworks.
"It's gonna take them longer than normal to get taken care of, if they go to a hospital that's on diversion, so it's not good for anybody."
Hernandez: "How many injuries?"
Souder: "The last study I saw shows over 9-thousand injuries per year from fireworks, directly related fireworks result in ER admissions, and of those, about 5-percent actually are so bad they get admitted to the hospital."
It is illegal to discharge fireworks or to have them in your possession in the city of Houston. Harris County Pct-6 Constable Victor Trevino says celebratory gunfire will also be a problem.
"Shooting your gun up in the air or in the ground, there's just so many dangers involved. Bottom line, it's illegal if someone shoots their gun up, class A misdemeanor. If someone is injured, it goes up to a felony now, depending on the nature of the injury."
Those who make a living selling fireworks are just as concerned about safety. Greg Culpepper manages the Top Dog fireworks warehouse near the east belt.
"You have to have some responsibility that comes with this national pastime, and it's important that we have an adult present and never give fireworks to children and number two, always have water handy, a garden hose or a bucket of water, so that if something was to ignite, you'd have a quick emergency plan."
He says patrons leave the store with information to ensure a safe experience. More information on Houston's July 4th celebration is found at www.freedomovertexas.org. Information on fireworks safety can be found at www.houstonfire.org.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News .