As Texans make plans to celebrate the Fourth of July with picnics, grilling, camping or fireworks, the Texas A&M Forest Service is encouraging everyone to be careful with any outdoor activity that may cause a spark.
Approximately 90% of wildfires are caused by humans and their activities. And according to the National Fire Protection Association, Independence Day is one of the top days for reported fires of all kinds. In 2018, fireworks accounted for an estimated 19,500 fires, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and 17,100 outside fires.
This year, recent rains have reduced some of the potential for wildfires across much of the state. A cool and moist fire environment, with increased chances for rain and below normal temperatures, will keep fire potential low statewide through the July Fourth weekend.
But even as fire potential across the state is relatively low, Texas A&M Forest Service and local fire officials want people to stay alert.
“We encourage everyone to be cautious with fireworks and outdoor activities this holiday,” said Bruce Woods, Texas A&M Forest Service Mitigation and Prevention Department head. “Remember to do your part, and don’t let a wildfire start.”
Wood said the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend public fireworks shows conducted by professionals. But if you are going to set off your own fireworks, here are some safety tips:
- Before you celebrate, always check with local government officials for any burn bans or other restrictions. Be sure to comply with all restrictions.
- Read and follow all warnings and instruction labels on fireworks.
- Use fireworks only under close adult supervision and in safe areas away from structures, dry grass and brush.
- Keep a hose, bucket of water and wet towels nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
- Dispose of used fireworks in a bucket of water.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
To help prevent wildfires, follow these additional tips:
- Avoid parking and idling in tall, dry grass. Catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass under a vehicle.
- Ensure chains and other metal parts aren’t dragging from your vehicle—they throw sparks.
- Avoid placing your grill near flammable vegetation or materials. Never leave your grill unattended and ensure the coals are completely extinguished when you are done.
Burn bans and fireworks restrictions are determined by county government. Texas A&M Forest Service does not take a position on the use of fireworks, nor does the agency determine, set or lift restrictions.