Although they’re illegal within Houston city limits, fireworks stands outside the city are trying to take advantage of a 10-day window around the 4th when it’s legal to sell their product. Operators say making money is important, but safety is also a top priority.
“We always tell them, be careful. That’s just the standard, you know. Be careful.”
Mike Artall runs Select Fireworks on Louetta in Spring. A big sign outside his stand predictably reads “No smoking”. He says his employees take safety seriously.
“Everybody that works here, they have about a 15-20 minute seminar that they give to tell you what you can and can’t do. Who you can sell to and who you can’t sell to.”
Down the road at Dyna-Works, Rusty Brock says business has been good this year after stands were shuttered last 4th of July because of the drought and burn ban. He says the industry has made big safety improvements.
“The fireworks industry, whether it’s retail pyrotechnics or display pyrotechnics, has made leaps and bounds as far as safety and the quality of the product to as closely as they can ensure that at least if the product is handled the way it is supposed to be and written on the package, that it’s a safe product to use.”
He says bottle rockets, which used to be a fireworks stand staple, can’t be sold in Texas anymore. Other powerful firecrackers have also been taken off the market. Cherry-bombs and M-80’s have been outlawed in the US for decades because they were too powerful. He says common sense is a big part of staying safe around fireworks.
“None of these, except for sparklers, are really intended to be held in your hand. And the other thing is to when you can, use the little punks that we supply with the sale rather than a butane lighter or something like that that might have a short flame. It puts you much closer to the product when it’s lit.”
Local emergency rooms see all sorts of fireworks-related injuries this time of year, including severe burns, trauma caused by explosions and eye injuries. Doctors say eye protection and a good dose of adult supervision go a long way to prevent injuries.