With the Independence Day consumer fireworks sales season approaching, Brown County Commissioners have limited the sale and use of skyrockets with fins and missiles with sticks as a step toward preventing grass fires in unincorporated areas. By law, all fireworks are banned from cities.

It wasn’t a unanimous decision, but the rules will nevertheless be the same as those that have been in effect for previous periods when fireworks can be sold in Texas. And residents who use them to create their own holiday celebrations should remember that even these restrictions are not intended to absolve the consumer from the responsibility of using them safely.

With the heat of summer already here, and strong winds helping to dry out vegetation, firefighters are being called out regularly to range fires. Drought has again become a problem in West and South Texas this year, and burn bans are in effect from El Paso to Brownsville, and from Big Bend to Perryton. Conditions here have not become that serious, but the burn bans are in effect as near as Burnet and Coke counties.

While the threat of starting fires with consumer fireworks certainly exists, of equal concern is personal safety. The Texas Pyrotechnic Association reports that even though the use of fireworks in the United States has risen dramatically since 1990, from 67.6 million pounds to 190 million pounds in 2002, injuries have declined significantly. Industry safety campaigns and consumer education have paid dividends, and it’s up to every fireworks user to prevent becoming a statistic. Nationally, there were an estimated 8,800 people treated for firework-related injuries in 2002, down from 10,900 in 1995, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Fireworks can be enjoyed safely if directions are followed, a responsible adult supervises use, items are ignited one at a time and a bucket of water is kept available to dispose of used fireworks, the association says.

For many Americans, it wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without fireworks. Even though the county has placed some restrictions on them this summer, the show can still go on. And when it does, a few precautions can mean the difference between a thrilling display and a tragic accident.

Brownwood Bulletin