Dangers rampant over holiday weekend
By LPR Staff
City of Lockhart and Caldwell County officials have joined with other government bodies across Central Texas in encouraging residents to practice extreme caution over the holiday weekend.
According to the National Weather Service, drought conditions throughout the region remain in the “moderate to high” range, and sm
all sparks can become wildfires without warning. To moderate that risk, the Caldwell County Commissioners have declared a state of emergency and banned the use of certain fireworks over the Fourth of July Weekend.
Although residents are encouraged to celebrate the holiday, they are reminded to do so safely.
On June 12, 2008, the Commissioners issued an order determining that “… no person may sell, donate, ignite or in any way use certain fireworks in any portion of the unincorporated areas of Caldwell County.” Those restricted fireworks include “skyrockets with sticks” and “missiles with fins.” Ignition of such fireworks is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500.
Common fireworks, classified as “Class C” fireworks, and large fireworks intended for public displays, and termed “Class B fireworks,” are both allowed under the ban.
County residents that choose to use fireworks to celebrate the holiday are strongly urged to keep water on hand and to ignite their fireworks well away from homes, barns or vehicles. Because the ground and foliage is so dry, any errant sparks should be extinguished immediately, rather than allowed to “burn out,” because of the very real danger that a single spark can lead to a damaging or deadly wildfire.
This principle was demonstrated Tuesday afternoon when an electrical transformer malfunctioned in a Lockhart residential neighborhood, shooting sparks and igniting a fire that charred more than an acre and threatened two homes.
Lockhart Fire Chief Jerry Doyle said use of fireworks of any kind within the Lockhart City Limits is illegal. Violations of the city’s fireworks ordinance, Doyle said, is a Class C Misdemeanor, subject to a fine from ranging from $500 to $2,000.
Improper use of fireworks accounts for a large number of preventable injuries and fires nationwide during the weeks before and after the Fourth of July, according to a news release distributed by Doyle on Tuesday. In fact, last year alone, Americans used more than 280 million pounds of display and backyard fireworks, and nearly 10,000 were treated in emergency rooms nationwide for fireworks-related injuries.
By taking simple steps to enjoy fireworks safely, he said, most accidents and injuries can be avoided.
The United States Fire Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following safety procedures during the Fourth of July and at all times of the year:
– Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
– Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
– Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging, as this can often be a sign the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
– Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don’t realize there are many injuries from sparklers to children under 5. Sparklers burn at temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
– Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
– Never try to pick up or re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned.
– Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
– Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
– Light one item at a time and then move back quickly.
– Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
– After fireworks fully complete their functioning, completely douse the spent device with water from a bucket or hose before discarding.
Of course, the best way to enjoy fireworks responsibly is to take part in one or more of the community-sponsored fireworks events. Professional or semi-professional fireworks displays will be held at sundown on Friday in the Lockhart City Park and at the Dale Community Center. Both events are free to the public and are family-oriented gatherings.