KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
December 26, 2018
Written by Natalie Cook Clark
Now that Christmas is over Katy residents prepare to ring in the New Year. Fireworks always play a major part in the holiday celebrations but when planning to enjoy fireworks people need to understand the laws, safety tips and overall etiquette before enjoying the bright lights and loud pops.
The first step in your fireworks education is to know and understand the laws of your county. Katy is part of Harris, Fort Bend, and Waller counties as well as neighborhoods that are both in the City of Katy proper and unincorporated areas.
Understand Your Area’s Laws
City of Katy-Fireworks are strictly forbidden inside the City of Katy limits.
Unincorporated County Areas- Fireworks are legal in unincorporated county areas in Harris, Fort Bend, and Waller (outside of Katy proper) as long as there isn't a fire ban and as long as the fireworks used are legal and set off in a safe place.
Legal Vs. Illegal Fireworks
So what is a "legal firework?" Most fireworks you buy from fireworks stands are legal. It's always important to check and make sure that the stand you are purchasing your fireworks from is certified and licensed. They should have that documentation easily visible on the stand. If you don't see if then ask to.
Consumers should stay away from venders who are selling fireworks out of a back of a pickup truck or on the side of road that do not have a certified stand. "And please use common sense," explains Lieutenant Simon VanDyk of Harris County Emergency Services. "If your fireworks have an extra boom from others then something may not be right."
Firework Safety Tips
1. Open Area and Distance- Make sure you are in an open area. You can be in your street but make sure you are not setting off fireworks up against a house. You cannot light fireworks off within 600 feet of a school (even if it's not in session,) church, hospital or gas station.
2. Read the instructions- Yes, this may sound simple but it is one of the most important safety tips. "My family loves those ladybug fireworks. They spin and then shoot up in the air," says VanDyk. "If someone failed to read the instructions they could easily get themselves and others in trouble for being too close when they shoot up." If you have questions don't be afraid to ask when buying the fireworks. Most of the employees at the firework stands will know all about what they are selling.
3. Not for children- Fireworks are pretty and festive when celebrating our Nations birthday but they do come with risk. Lighting fireworks should be left to the adults. Of course kids can enjoy and watch but safety should always come first.
4. When drinking- As with most holidays people enjoy an adult beverage. "Lighting fireworks is no different than having a designated driver. Alcohol will slow your reaction time and that time could result in injury when lighting fireworks," says VanDyk. Be responsible and let those adults not drinking light the fireworks.
5. Water source- ALWAYS have a water source nearby and douse everything before throwing it out. "We will have a number of garage fires on the 5th because people tossed something in the trash," says VanDyk. "In most cases these are responsible people who truly believed they had put out any fire but it only takes one little simmering ember to ignite a fire. It's not out until you've doused it." In this area you can't be too cautious. Don't be afraid to dump water on it or even soak them in a bucket of water overnight. "A fire can start up to 12 hours after you believe it is out," cautions VanDyk.
Don't Forget Your Pets
Many pets go missing during New Year's Eve because the noise and lights can be terrifying to pets and they run and hide.
Pet experts recommend bringing outside pets indoors and even putting them in an interior room to help minimize the sound and prevent them going through a window.
Keep pets inside
Keeps pets in interior rooms away from windows
Verify they have proper identification (tags and microchips)
Just as firework safety relies heavy on common sense so should etiquette. While some neighborhoods request the ceasing of firework use after midnight residents should know not to shoot off fireworks during odd hours that could upset families.
"I love fireworks. What frustrates me is that some people are disrespectful for when and where the shoot them," says Katy resident Jennifer Lynn. "This year, fireworks stated going off in my neighborhood at 12:30 am on Christmas Eve until 2 am. In a neighborhood, people know kids are sleeping because Santa is coming the next morning. A little courtesy would go a long way with those that have a problem with them."
If you do plan to shoot off fireworks let your neighbors know your intentions so they can prepare children and pets for the noise.
While it's tempting to get the most out of your firework purchases it's not courteous to shoot off fireworks after the celebration.
As we count down to the New Year, enjoy your celebrations with fireworks. Just be safe, courteous, and considerate to your Katy neighbors.