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'Celebrate responsibly': Experts sending urgent warning, sharing firework safety tips ahead of New Year's Day celebrations

"Fireworks and alcohol do not mix."

PORT NECHES, Texas — Fire experts are sending an urgent warning to Southeast Texans so New Year's Day celebrations do not lead to major accidents.

Many in Southeast Texas are preparing to celebrate the beginning of the new year with fireworks. While residents are allowed to purchase and pop fireworks in certain areas of Jefferson County, the celebrations can become dangerous if fireworks are not handled properly.

“Never carry fireworks in your pockets,” Port Neches Fire Chief Eloy Vega said. “It's always best to just keep them separate, away from where you're using them."

Fire experts are sharing safety tips to prevent any injury and property damage that fireworks can cause.

"One of the first tips that we would offer to the public is to be familiar with the local laws in your area," Chief Vega said. "For example, is it legal to pop fireworks, or to use fireworks, or to transport fireworks in the city that you reside in?"

Fireworks are only legal in some parts of Jefferson County.

Vega is encouraging Southeast Texans to only use incense punk lighters to ignite fireworks to prevent injuries. Those handling fireworks should make sure to keep flames away from items that can catch fire.

"And away from any combustible materials and away from anybody that can be affected by the fireworks," Chief Vega said. "Never point fireworks at anybody or anything. If anything, they go up. And also ensure the area around the fireworks is clear of any debris"

Participants should pop fireworks in flat spaces with no trees or grass in the area. Even though many will be celebrating and partying, Chief Vega feels it is important that Southeast Texans do not operate fireworks while drunk. 

"Celebrate responsibly," Chief Vega said. "Fireworks and alcohol do not mix. Therefore, we recommend that if anybody is going to be celebrating, they do it in moderation, and if they are children present, always designate somebody that is sober and responsible to supervise any children. "

Once the celebrations are over, residents are encouraged to soak all fireworks, sparklers, and poppers in water before throwing them away. 

"Make sure everything goes out," Jeff Jenny, owner of Good Ole Boys Fireworks, said. "When you're done with your firework, always put it in water, because they will burn, especially when the wind's blowing hard. The kids, fireworks for the kids, most important thing about that ... safety, parental guidance." 

Pets tend to get scared around fireworks. Southeast Texans are encouraged to close all doors, curtains, and windows and leave on the TV or soothing music to drown out the loud booms.

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