HARLINGEN — The holidays are known to be exciting times for families and loved ones. However, they can spark unwanted situations.
The Harlingen Fire Department and the Harlingen Police Department discussed the possible situations one could encounter and what should be avoided.
Those include the proper way to handle fireworks and the increased risks of drunken driving during the holidays.
Assistant Fire Marshal Joey Albritton said fireworks are not legal within Harlingen city limits. However, those who plan to use them in places where they are legal should pay attention to the fire department’s tips in order to avoid a tragedy.
“We recommend seeing a show that is put on by professionals. In Harlingen it is not legal to discharge fireworks, but in general safety keep children away,” he said.
“It is also important to know fireworks and alcohol don’t mix. Also be cautious of the type of clothing you are wearing,” Albritton said.
Another tip he gave is to never pick up fireworks as you are lighting them. They could go off in your hand. Surroundings such as dry vegetation should be kept in mind.
“The wind speed is important. Also never aim them at other people and once the device is lit you stay back a distance,” he said.
“If a firework malfunctions, never re-light one that did not go off. Keep a bucket of water and put it out. Be mindful of who is around you,” Albritton said.
According to him and an article from the National Safety Council in 2017, eight people died and 12,000 were injured because of fireworks misuse.
Drunken Driving Rises
Not only are fireworks a risk during the holiday season but the increase of drunken drivers is too, police Sgt. Larry Moore said.
The Harlingen Police Department received an impaired mobilization step grant to increase patrolling in the streets because people are known to drink more during these days.
“The majority of drinking and driving occurs in evening hours but there have been cases of intoxicated drivers in the afternoon and even mornings,” he said.
The increased patrolling runs through Jan. 1, and officers will be targeting intoxicated drivers.
“One of the safety issues is to be aware of your surroundings. Look left and right before crossing intersections and drive as safe as you can,” Moore said.
“Anybody can drink at any time and get behind the wheel,” he said.
He said the enforcement period is not just during the night because of the uncertainty of drunken drivers.
Moore advises the community to follow the department’s advice to avoid an incident.
“Have a designated driver, take a Lyft or stay home with your family and friends. Don’t risk your life or the life of someone else’s family. It is just not worth it,” he said.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Tips and guidelines for New Year’s Eve safety
– See a fireworks show put on by professionals, preferably.
– Keep small children away from them and supervise others.
– Do not pick up fireworks as you light them.
– Do not drink and drive
– Get a designated driver or use a cab or an Uber or Lyft.
-Spend the night.