Manager David Dallmeyer waits for customers at the Mr B Fireworks Factory Outlet stand on Highway 80. Officials urge caution when using fireworks, which is illegal, along with possessing them, within the San Marcos City Limits. Daily Record photo by Denise Cathey
Fire Marshal urges fireworks caution
Fireworks stands, illegal within the city limits, have popped along most roads into and out of San Marcos in recent days and are now open selling their wares for the Fourth of July.
That’s despite burn bans in Hays, Caldwell, Comal and Guadalupe counties and a steady increase in the KDBI Drought Index which currently shows the local area in “moderate drought.” On Monday, the KBDI Drought Index put San Marcos at 556 on a scale from 0 to 800.
The situation has prompted remarks from Hays County Fire Marshal Clint Browning, who reminds residents to be very careful because of the extremely dry weather and the ease in which stray sparks could start grass and brush fires.
The cautions are for those who plan to set off fireworks as well as those whose plans include cooking outdoors.
“While the drought index was below the threshold for banning fireworks with sticks and fins by the deadline of June 15, please remember that much of our environment is very dry, and grass and brush fires ignite easily,” Browning said. “If you plan to set off fireworks of any kind, be sure that there is a water source nearby, and that all fireworks litter is cleaned up and placed in a safe, fireproof container or doused in water before you leave the area. The same goes for outdoor grilling – make sure your grill fire is out before you leave the area.” Although there is a burn ban in place in the unincorporated areas of Hays County, outdoor grilling is allowed in a grill with a lid. Open fires, burn barrels and fire pits are not allowed, nor is any type of fire at Hays County parks.
The National Safety Council notes that while summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks displays, along with the festivities are plenty of visits to emergency rooms – especially during July.
In 2016, at least four people died and about 11,100 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
And while the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, thousands were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers – sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and are not considered safe for young children.
Here’s what Browning recommends:
- Buy from reputable fireworks vendors; never try to make your own fireworks
- Read and follow label directions, warnings, and safety instructions
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Keep children and pets away
- Young children can suffer injuries from sparklers, which burn at about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals
- Never place any part of your body over the fireworks when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance after the fuse is lit
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully ignited
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person, an animal, or a vehicle
- Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy in case of fire
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly. Never twist fuses together to set off more than one at a time
- Never carry fireworks in your pockets or set them off in a metal or glass container
- After fireworks have finished burning, douse them with water from a container or garden hose to avoid a trash fire
- Eye and hearing protection is strongly recommended
Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them. Fireworks are not allowed in Hays County parks. The sale and possession of fireworks are banned in most incorporated cities in Hays County.
If you live in an area where fireworks are used, make sure your pets have identification or keep them indoors. Be extra watchful for persons near roadways who might be setting off fireworks after dark.
To report a fire, call 911.