KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
December 30, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
The end of 2020 is certainly something to celebrate, but Katy authorities remind residents to welcome the New Year in safely.
Photo: Veronica Miko
Driveway Party Concern
COVID-19 protocols will keep many Katy residents home this New Year’s Eve. When home driveways become the setting for family firework shows, it’s crucial to understand the law and how to be safe.
“With no big parties to go to at hotels or anywhere else, there will be a lot more driveway parties,” says soon-to-be Fort Bend County Constable, Precinct 3, Chad Norvell.
Where can residents set off fireworks?
The Katy area includes three counties: Harris, Fort Bend, and Waller. When residents make plans to ring in the New Year, it is important that they know the law for the county in which their house resides.
“If you live outside of a city, which applies to most of what is called the ‘Katy area,’ fireworks are legal,” says Norvell.
Fireworks are strictly forbidden inside the City of Katy limits. The fines range from $25-$200 and adults supervising minors who participate in illegal fireworks will be fined as well.
Fireworks are legal in both Harris and Fort Bend counties (outside of Katy proper). Unless a fire ban has been declared, responsible residents are permitted to set them off in a safe place.
Which fireworks are legal?
Authorities urge residents to only purchase permitted fireworks from reliable vendors.
“We have had inquiries from the community about fireworks being sold from the home,” says Jason Tharp, Division Chief of Community Risk Reduction and Public Information Officer for Harris County. “This is illegal and should be reported to the Fire Marshall’s Office immediately.”
To sell fireworks, retailers must obtain many permits and follow safety procedures.
“If someone is caught selling fireworks out of their home, it is a Class B misdemeanor, the fireworks will be confiscated and a fine of $200,” says Tharp. Anonymous tips can be reported online.
Most fireworks sold at fireworks stands are legal. However, it's important to confirm that the stand is certified and licensed. The vendor should have that documentation visibly posted. If the certification is not posted, they should provide it for customers to review. Authorities warn residents to avoid vendors selling fireworks out of an unmarked truck or on the side of the road that do not have a certified stand.
Improperly Disposed Fireworks Cause Katy House Fire
Being safe around fireworks seems like common sense, but it’s easy to overlook something small that can turn into something big.
“Last year we had a residential fire caused by fireworks thought to be extinguished discarded in a trashcan that was up against the back of the home,” explains Tharp. “The fire caused over $100,000 in damage and the residents were out of their home for months while repairs were made.”
Fireworks Safety Tips:
NEVER ALLOW CHILDREN TO PLAY WITH OR IGNITE FIREWORKS
Always read and follow label directions, warnings, and instructions.
Only ignite fireworks outdoors, and away from houses and other buildings.
Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
Light only one firework at a time.
Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned.
Never throw fireworks at another person, vehicle, or animal.
Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
Dispose of fireworks safely.
“It is best to soak fireworks down with a water hose before tossing them in the trash,” advises Tharp.
Don’t forget your pets when celebrating the holiday with fireworks. It’s always important to keep current tags on your pet’s collar and keep pets in interior rooms when the loud pops and bright lights of fireworks are going on.
Be a Good Neighbor
While the below aren't "rules" they are common-sense practices that make us all good neighbors.
Timing: Only light fireworks up to two hours after sunset, so end the show before midnight. Anything later is a disruption to those neighbors trying to sleep.
Prepare: Let your neighbors know if you plan to shoot off fireworks so they can prepare children and pets for the noise.
Be tidy: Clean up ALL fireworks debris, including trash that fell in neighbors' yards.
Night only: Do not light fireworks in the day. They don't show up so it's a waste of your money and neighbors could be alarmed by the loud, unexpected (explosive) noise.
Respect the date: Fireworks are used to celebrate the new year. Don’t keep firing them off after the holiday.
Keep in mind that while certain Home Owners Associations prohibit fireworks, only the HOA can enforce that rule, not the police or the fire department.
Count Your Blessings
2020 has been a different year and many have suffered. Still, we have many blessings. How are you ringing in the new year? What blessings are you thankful for?