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Fireworks season starts Thursday

June 23, 2010 at 1:23 a.m.

Harold Bellanger and Diana Kruciak stock up Alamo Fireworks before opening day. Fireworks season begins Thursday.

Guidelines to play it safe around fireworks:

Read and follow directions printed on labels.

Have an adult present.

Buy from reliable sellers.

Use outdoors only.

Have water - a garden hose and bucket - handy.

Never make your own fireworks or experiment by combining them.

Light only one firework at a time.

Never relight a "dud." If it doesn't shoot off, wait 15 or 20 minutes and soak it in a bucket of water.

Never give fireworks to small children.

Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.

Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and then tossing them in the trash can.

Never throw fireworks or point them at other people.

Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.

Shooters should wear eye protection and should never have any part of the body over the firework.

Stay away from illegal explosives.

Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated shooter."

Only people age 12 and older should be allowed to handle sparklers of any sort.

Never use homemade fireworks made of illegal explosives. They can kill you.

Source: Ron Pray, Victoria County fire marshalIN THE CITY

The only fireworks legal to shoot off within city limits are the novelty varieties sold through retail stores, City Fire Marshal John Bradley said, but those still carry risk of injury. A person should be careful any time they handle fireworks of any type.

A string of red, white and blue flags fluttered in the wind Wednesday, ushering passersby toward the wooden Alamo Fireworks stand that sat along U.S. Highway 87 N.

But the stand wasn't open just yet.

Texas' summer fireworks season opens Thursday, giving Crossroads residents a chance to stock up on sparklers, poppers, firecrackers and more. The season runs through midnight July 4.

The Alamo stand should be open for business Thursday evening, said Brenda Carlile, the stand's manager. She planned to receive her product shipment Thursday or Friday.

"This is our 12th year doing this, so we pretty much know what to do," she explained. "But it's pretty crazy."

The days leading up to the opening are always busy, filled with unpacking boxes and stocking shelves, said John Svoboda, who runs the Alamo Mega Store off Beck Road. Throughout the season, however, things don't really pick up until the last day or so.

"That's when we'll see our rush," he said. "Usually before that, even though we'll get some people who come in, it's pretty slow."

Victoria County has no burn ban or aerial firework ban in effect this year, said Ron Pray, the Victoria County fire marshal. The area has received adequate moisture.

There are certain safety and legal issues people should pay attention to as the season progresses, however.

Fireworks are not allowed within city limits, he said, and can only be set off in unincorporated areas within the county.

Sparklers are included in the list of items illegal within Victoria city limits, said John Bradley, the city fire marshal. People caught disobeying the ordinance can face two citations, one for possession and another if they're actually caught using the pyrotechnics, he said. When combined, they carry a $350 fine.

Those who do shoot off fireworks in legal areas should follow safety instructions printed on labels, always keep them away from children and observe other safety practices, Pray said.

"We just want everyone to be safe and have a good time," he said.

It isn't just consumers who are held to standards during fireworks season.

Stand operators must also follow guidelines, such as having a working fire extinguisher on hand, an adequate exit and the like. And it's part of Pray's job to visit the stands and make sure they comply.

"Most people know the laws," he said, explaining that, if he does find a violation, it's usually minor.

As for Carlile, she said she's ready to kick-start her season. It's fun, she said, and it's actually the last time she'll find herself running the stand.

Next year, she'll pass it off to her daughter.

"It will be her first year doing it without me present," Carlile said. "But she's ready. She's been doing it for a long time."



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