Pro: Fireworks cause avoidable injuries, fires every year

June 27, 2010 at 1:27 a.m.

Those who oppose the sale of fireworks have plenty of statistics on their side.

About 7,000 people across the country ended up in the emergency room because of fireworks-related injuries in 2008.

Of those injured, 5,000 occurred within a one-month period around the Fourth of July.

And almost half of those injured, 47 percent, were under the age of 20, according to the U.S. Consumer and Product Safety Commission.

Besides injury, fires are also a problem, especially in the dry state of Texas.

Fireworks fires cause about $15 million in damages annually, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System.

Twenty percent of those damages occur on July Fourth.

Victoria County Fire Marshal Ron Pray said his volunteers respond to at least a few small grass fires every year around the Fourth of July.

Last year, all aerial fireworks were banned because the drought conditions posed too much of a fire threat.

"It's a proven fact that there have been many fires that fireworks have started, but it depends on the conditions," Pray said.

Janell Langley, 24, of Victoria, experienced firsthand what can happen when people shoot off fireworks in dry conditions.

In 1999, two acres of the land she lived on caught fire because of sparklers.

"I lived out on a pasture, and the whole thing caught on fire," Langley said, adding that she thinks the sale of fireworks should be banned if there's a burn notice.

Fireworks are allowed outside the city limits, but even transporting fireworks through Victoria is prohibited and carries a $200 fine.

The 12 fireworks stands in the Victoria area are required to sit 5,000 feet outside the city limits.

But not even these regulations guarantee an injury-free Independence Day.

Dr. John McNeill, who has practiced in Victoria for 10 years, said July Fourth, like most holidays, is busy.

"They're usually burns to the hands and face. Every year we see some," he said.

There are alternatives to selling fireworks to the public.

"Many times, communities will decide to do fireworks shows instead of doing retail sales," said Pray, who does not favor banning retail sale of fireworks.

The city's annual firework show will be at Ethel Lee Tracy Park. The public will be able to watch from Victoria Mall parking lot.

The county will also have Saxet Lakes open in the evening so people can set off fireworks there.



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