The Fourth of July in Galveston County is synonymous with fireworks, barbecues, beaches, boats and parades. The fact that it’s a celebration of the USA makes it all the more enjoyable. However, it’s also a holiday when carelessness, inattention and, frequently, alcohol cause more accidents than on an average day.

Fireworks have for years been illegal to buy or set off in most Galveston County cities. They generally are illegal unless they’re sold and remain in the unincorporated areas. Fortunately, groups in many cities sponsor fireworks displays done by professionals.

The city of Galveston, for example, is putting on a professional fireworks display at 9 p.m. Thursday on the beach at 37th Street and Seawall Boulevard. Texas City will host a fireworks display beginning after sundown at Bay Street Park and League City has one from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday at the Chester L. Davis Sportsplex, 1251 W. League City Parkway.

Friendswood will have a fireworks display at Stevenson Park beginning about 9:20 p.m. Thursday, and the Star Spangled Sky Fireworks show will begin at 9:30 p.m. Thursday on the Kemah Boardwalk, 215 Kipp Ave.

There are plenty of opportunities across the county to celebrate this fine national holiday without violating any laws.

And there’s more than just the law at stake. People who choose to ignore the fireworks ordinances and set them off in the county run the risk of causing fires.

Residents and Fourth of July visitors should also be aware that improperly handling fireworks can cause irreparable damage, not just to the structures because of fire. Handlers and innocent bystanders — many who might be children — are injured each year because of misuse of fireworks.

Even fireworks that are often thought to be safe, such as sparklers, can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees and can cause burns, statistically most often to the hands (40 percent), eyes (20 percent) and head and face (20 percent).

Speaking of children, please keep an extra-close eye on them this Fourth of July, whether it be around the pool, at the parades or in a crowded area watching the fireworks displays.

Alcohol consumption traditionally has contributed to about 40 percent of the fatal traffic accidents in Texas each year, according to government statistics. This makes sense when you think of the barbecuing process. Barbecues typically start in the early afternoon and last all day, all the while the holiday revelers are drinking. By nightfall, when the party is over, people drive home. We strongly urge county residents and anyone drinking this Independence Day to have a plan for a designated driver.

Another problem alcohol causes is for people going out on their boats. Alcohol is among the Top Five causes of boating accidents, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The other four are operator inattention, which is No. 1; improper lookout; excessive speed; and operator inexperience.

Enjoy the holiday, but drink responsibly, watch your children and leave the fireworks shows to the professionals.

• Daily News Editorial Board

(3) comments

Wayne Holt

I hope the Galveston Police Dept. has a zero tolerance policy for illegal fireworks use this July 4th. Last year at this time, there were skyrockets over downtown, huge explosions and idiots setting them off in the streets downtown. How about some officers with ticket books out there this year, taking no excuses? It's way past time to crack down on the jokers who do this. Don't just confiscate them; take them away and hand them a ticket. And if they don't show, automatically issue a capias warrant to get their attitude right.

David Smith

There's a plan to use the same police officers that write littering tickets this year........

Mary Lofaro

This is never enforced. Guess they don't have the resources to do it. I live a couple blocks from seawall, and people shoot fireworks from the beach until the wee hours of the night every year for the 4th.

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