June 27, 2013 — COLLEGE STATION, Texas — More wildfires are reported on July 4th than on any other day of the year, a statistic that stresses the need for folks to be extra careful during Independence Day celebrations.
Whether you’re shooting off fireworks, grilling hotdogs and hamburgers or just hanging out around the campfire, residents should remember to use caution when doing anything outdoors that could potentially cause a spark.
“Keeping your home safe from wildfire is always important whether you’ve had rain or not,” Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Prevention Specialist Jan Amen said. “If you plan to cook outdoors, do so away from any sort of vegetation and do not leave your grill unattended.”
Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department Head Tom Spencer said the wildfire risk over the Independence Day holiday is elevated in West Texas where the vegetation is dry and gusty winds are commonplace — perfect conditions for a potentially devastating wildfire.
Though parts of Texas have seen recent rains, more than half of the state remains mired in drought. Specific areas of concern include the Panhandle down through Midland and the Trans-Pecos Region.
“Safety should always be your No. 1 concern,” Spencer said. “The safest wildfire is always the one that never ignites.”
Fireworks safety tips:
• Before you celebrate, always check with local government officials to ensure fireworks and outdoor burning are allowed in your county. Be sure to comply with all restrictions.
• Read and follow all warnings and instructions labels on fireworks.
• Keep fireworks away from homes and structures, which can accidentally ignite.
• Use fireworks only under close adult supervision and in safe areas away from 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.
Note: 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.
Tom Spencer, Predictive Services Department Head
Jan Amen, Fire Prevention Specialist