AUSTIN - There are plenty of ways to celebrate the Fourth of July, but there seems to be one constant at many parties across the United States: fireworks.
“Ninety percent of my business will be done [July 3 and 4],” explained Thomas Brownson, the owner of Half Off Fireworks.
He owns six locations throughout the area, and stocks up on fireworks for the short pockets of the year they can be sold. State law allows fireworks to be sold from June 24 through July 4, December 20 through January 1, and three other pockets of the year – pending the respective County Commissioner Court’s approval.
Brownson says weather conditions are ideal this year.
“As long as we got plenty of moisture in the ground, we're in good shape. If that moisture goes away, we're not in good shape. Luckily this year we've had plenty of moisture, the KBDI (Keetch-Byram Drought Index) is low in Travis County, so we're in good shape,” said Brownson.
The KBDI is an index used to determine forest fire potential. To learn more of the KBDI value in your area, click here.
While some people come in looking for a specific brand, many are caught by the packaging.
“These fireworks are a big aerial display, and they have a monkey on [the packaging] so that's why we got it because my dad likes monkeys,” said Lauren Frazier, who went with her family Monday afternoon.
“You can sell [it] from just the packaging time and time again. People look at it, I have people come in here and say I like the monkey,” Brownson said.
When it comes to fireworks, there’s no typical customer.
“It's all over the place. We have little kids come up here with their parents, we have older people. We had a guy who was up here the other day - he was 85, 90 years old. And he comes every year by the way,” said Brownson.
“There’s a lot of different kinds of fireworks, and when you have kids you need to be careful not to get stuff that’s too advanced for them, but it is super entertaining to them,” said James Frazier.
While state law allows the sale of fireworks at specific locations – there are rules governing who can – and where people can – use them.
Fireworks can’t be sold to children under 16 years old.
They can’t be set off within 100 feet from the stand – or 600 feet from a child care facility, church, hospital or school.
Certain cities have ordinances banning the ownership or setting off of fireworks entirely, while other counties could ban the use pending weather conditions.
In areas in which they are legal – Brownson suggests you wear a cotton shirt, avoid baggy clothing, and tie any loose hair up.
“We tell a lot of people how to use the product. We don’t want anyone [to get] hurt. It looks bad for the industry. So we try to explain to people how it works, where to light it, to set it down, get away from it, things like that,” Brownson said, adding the biggest issue they face is the misuse of products.
As for an ideal setting, he said you should be at least 100 feet away from any structure or vehicle, and if you do set it off on grass – water down the area before setting it off.
Read the warnings and make sure you understand how your specific fireworks shoot off, as different models go to varied heights or pop off in different directions.
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