Fire officials stress importance of fireworks safety amid July 4 celebrations
Fire officials are stressing the importance of fireworks safety as families in the Rio Grande Valley get together to celebrate Independence Day.
While many celebrate the holiday by lighting up the sky, Edinburg Fire Chief Shawn Snider says fireworks are not toys.
"There's still a big potential for a fire to get out of control if a firework lands in the wrong place," Snider said. "It's really important to know where you're shooting these and where it's going to come down."
Snider says his team responded to 46 grassfires in 2 hours on the Fourth of July years ago. He says he wants families to enjoy the holiday without anyone getting hurt.
Before using fireworks, the fire chief says there are several things to keep in mind.
"[Are] there any houses around? Any propane tanks, anything that would be a hazard— high grass," Snider said. "[There are] devices that you use to light them and keep your fingers and body from the fireworks."
Dr. Marissa Gomez Martinez, a physician advisor at SHR Health Urgent Care, says even fireworks that may seem harmless can become a hazard.
"People don't realize, even a sparkler," she says. "We all think they're innocent and pretty— the kids can hold them. [But] they can burn at up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit."
Gomez-Martinez says every year she sees Fourth of July related injuries, most commonly burns to the hands, arms, and fingers, but she says they can also cause less visible damage.
"I've actually seen what we call barotrauma,' Gomez-Martinez said. "Somebody who is holding a firework close to their ear and their eardrum burst."
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 15,600 people suffered Fourth of July-related injuries last year.
Fire officials say if you choose to light up fireworks this weekend, keep in mind never to let young children handle the fireworks, do not try to re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks, and never light them in a container or indoors.
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