AUSTIN (KXAN) — Fire and water: many families celebrate the Fourth of July with both.
Whether it’s setting off fireworks or cooling off in a pool, Austin Fire Department wants to keep the public safe. Ahead of the holiday weekend, crews demonstrated pool gate safety Wednesday morning at the 26 West Apartments.
The choice of location was not random. Austin Fire said in its press release that it believes the 26 West complex is “doing everything right” when it comes to the broken mechanisms.
AFD completed 11,292 in-service pool gate inspections in 2018, per their “Pool Safety” press release. Of those, roughly 10,000 were apartment complexes/multi-family dwellings while at least 140 were hotels/motels.
During the inspections, the department recorded 183 violations related to swimming pools. Five of those included hotels/motels. Violations ranged from improper chemical storage to gates not operating properly.
Of those violations:
- 53 were specifically related to pool gates at apartment complexes/multi-family dwellings.
- Two were specific to pool gates at hotels/motels.
Pool gate locks keep kids safe, especially when an adult or lifeguard isn’t present, but if they break, a holiday can quickly turn into a nightmare.
As of June 28, 2019, Travis County recorded four fatal drownings, all in children 5 years of age or younger. Of those four, one occurred at an apartment complex and one happened at a hotel pool.
AFD says to call 3-1-1 to report improperly locked pool gates.
Aside from the relaxing by the pool, many will inevitably buy and use fireworks. However, it is illegal to possess, use and sell them within the City of Austin as well as within 5,000 feet outside the city limits.
That doesn’t stop offenders, AFD says.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 18,500 reported fires were caused by fireworks, and hospital emergency rooms treated 12,900 fireworks-related injuries.
If you spot any fireworks within those areas, you are urged to file a complaint to 3-1-1, not 9-1-1.
AFD says those caught will be fined $568. But, if bodily harm and/or property damage occurs, people can expect more punishment than that. You can be charged with assault, and/or arson, which are both felony crimes.
The main goal is to reduce risk of fire and injuries.
The Fourth of July is notorious for each. The NFPA states more fires occur on this particular holiday than any other day of the year. Fireworks account for two out of five of those fires. Also, those 15 years of age and younger are reported to be at the highest risk of fireworks injury. Supervision is recommended.