Don’t be the jerk who sets off July 4th fireworks in your neighborhood — especially this year

·3 min read
Star-Telegram archives

It’s never a good idea to set off fireworks in your neighborhood.

It’s illegal. It’s dangerous. It’s disruptive to your neighbors, even if it’s only a couple times a year.

For this Fourth of July, though, it’s dangerously irresponsible.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is in an intense drought. That makes for dry grass and trees, and the slightest spark could start a fire that quickly gets out of hand.

The risk is acute in more rural areas, where entire acres can be ablaze with shocking speed. Most counties in the state have outdoor burn bans in place, and Tarrant County joined the list Tuesday. Parker County, with an active blaze to its west in Palo Pinto County, has taken the next step: barring residents from setting off fireworks beyond publicly run displays.

Tarrant could well do the same before the holiday. But county authority is limited, and there’s too much ground to cover for effective policing. We need to take responsibility ourselves.

Current drought conditions

This map shows the current week's extent of drought conditions in the Dallas - Fort Worth area and across the United States from the U.S. Drought Monitor. Source: National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Forecasts have drought conditions persisting into the fall. Firefighting resources across the region could be stretched. We don’t need to test them with home fireworks use that gets out of hand.

Besides, fireworks are a notorious cause for injuries, many of them disfiguring. You only get 10 fingers — is it worth losing one to watch a firecracker go off?

And if you live in a crowded area, chances are you’re making someone miserable with your explosive fun. The Fort Worth Fire Department reminds that for many combat veterans, the sound of fireworks can bring misery.

“To help minimize the number of fireworks heard throughout the city … please leave them to the professionals,” the department wrote on Twitter. “Not only are they illegal and dangerous, but they are harmful to our veterans and first responders living” with post-traumatic stress.

Plenty of older neighbors don’t want to stay up with you as your party stretches into July 5, either.

And yes, then there are the dogs. It may seem trivial, but our four-legged friends experience intense stress from big booms they can’t understand. If you’ve ever had a trembling 60-pound dog crawl into your lap for comfort, you’d think twice before lighting that next firework.

Many of our municipalities will put on fine fireworks shows. They’re bigger and brighter than anything you can set off yourself. Head downtown or enjoy any number of suburban spectacles.

Celebrating America is never a bad move. But this year, let the professionals handle the big booms, especially in fire-prone areas.

Your neighbors, your firefighters and dogs everywhere will thank you for it.

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