By NADIA TAMEZ-ROBLEDO
BROWNSVILLE — With the Fourth of July here, safety and health officials are urging people to take precautions from injuries, fires and mosquito-born illnesses during celebrations.
Cameron County Fire Marshal Juan Martinez said recent rain doesn’t eliminate the possibility of grass fires, which spike slightly around firework-heavy holidays.
“We still want people to use common sense,” he said. “We want people to enjoy the Fourth of July and have fun. Remember, it’s not just your yard and family that can be affected.”
Martinez advised that revelers keep water nearby when using fireworks and set them off away from homes and tall grass. Fireworks like Roman Candles should not be aimed at people, he added, and fireworks that are meant to be lit on the ground should never be lit in someone’s hand.
“If it looks like it’s dangerous, it’s probably dangerous,” he said.
First- or second-degree burns should be run under lukewarm or cold water, Martinez said, not treated with petroleum jelly or butter.
Ramiro Gonzalez Jr., an owner of Mr. G’s Fireworks, said his foremost piece of safety advice to is make sure children have adult supervision at all times while using fireworks.
“If you leave kids alone, they’re always going to do something they’re not supposed to do,” he said.
Gonzalez said people should never attempt to relight a malfunctioning firework.
“If it doesn’t go off and the fuse goes in there, it might be going off slow and you might be hit by it,” he said.
Gonzalez cautioned that shoppers should only fireworks from regulated , reputable vendors and avoid purchasing “palomas” from Mexico, referencing an fatal explosion at a Mexico firework warehouse last year.
“It’s a bomb. People light it in their hand” and get injured,” he said.
The Valley Baptist Health System recommends keeping fireworks away from children altogether and wearing eye protection while lighting them.
“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show organized by trained professionals,” Communications Manager Monique Poessiger said in a news release. “This not only promotes a safer environment, but allows you to enjoy the fireworks viewing.
Texas Department of State Health Services is reminding people to stay vigilant against mosquito-born illnesses like Zika and West Nile during outdoor celebrations. Using insect repellent, dumping out standing water, using air conditioning, making sure window screens are in good repair and wearing long sleeves and long pants can protect from bites.