AUSTIN (KXAN) — People often celebrate holidays or other events by using fireworks. Travis County authorities are reminding residents of the safe and legal ways to do that before New Year’s festivities begin.

The Travis County Fire Marshal’s Office is reminding the public to celebrate safely by staying informed about the hazards of consumer fireworks.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fireworks cause approximately 19,500 fires yearly, resulting in an estimated $105 million in direct property damage nationwide.

11,500 firework injuries were reported last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and about 32% of those emergency room injuries were burns caused by fireworks.

“As we ring in 2023, I encourage all residents to safely celebrate this New Year’s Eve. It is important to remember that fireworks can only be legally used in certain unincorporated areas of Travis County,” said Tony Callaway, Travis County Fire Marshal. “If you are going to use fireworks during your celebrations, it is imperative for you to know the risks associated with fireworks. Following simple safety precautions can prevent injuries and tragedies.”

Safety Tips

The Travis County Fire Marshal’s Office recommends following these steps before, during, and after using consumer fireworks:

  • Purchase and set off fireworks labeled for consumers. Never use homemade or illegal fireworks.
  • Know and follow all county and city fireworks laws for your area. Check with your local fire and police departments for guidance on permitted fireworks.
  • Use Fireworks outside on a flat, firm surface, such as the ground or a driveway. Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them in metal or glass containers.
  • Never point or throw fireworks, including sparklers, at anyone.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • Protect your children – Never use sparklers without close adult supervision. While often considered a “safe” firework for kids, the tip of a sparkler burns at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, is hot enough to melt some metals and can cause third-degree burns. According to the 2021 CPSC report, there were 1,100 emergency room-related injuries due to sparklers.
  • Be mindful that fireworks can raise many concerns for the safety and well-being of animals, senior citizens, military veterans, and other community members. Animals have sensitive ears and can be frightened or stressed during a fireworks celebration. Always keep pets inside and safe from fireworks.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Lighting a “dud” can cause it to explode, leading to serious injury. If a firework does not light or fire, let it sit for at least 20 minutes, then carefully place it in a bucket of water. Soak them and throw them away.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher on hand – Fireworks in dry areas can quickly start a blaze that goes out of control.
  • Fireworks can smolder for a long time after going off and start a fire after you’ve left the area. Use a bucket of water to discard matches, used fireworks, and firework duds to prevent a trash fire.
  • Be sure matches, lighters, and unused fireworks are out of the sight and reach of children before, during, and after your celebration.

If you have questions about local fireworks restrictions, contact your local fire department. If you need assistance determining which fire department you should call, contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 512-854-4621.

For more information on fireworks safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association, nfpa.org; the National Safety Council, nsc.org; or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), cpsc.gov.