CARLSBAD CURRENT-ARGUS, NM -- June 27 -- While the explosions of light and colorful flames are meant to symbolize the militaristic birth of this nation, fireworks can pose a severe danger to summertime celebrations.
The Fourth of July is the busiest day of the year for firefighters, with two of five fires reported that day resulting from fireworks, read a press release from Fire Fighters Local 1687, Carlsbad's fire fighters union.
Union officials urged spectators to attend a professional fireworks show, and avoid any amateur display.
"Consumer fireworks are dangerous and the risks to personal safety and the safety of the community are significant," said Scott Maxwell, president of the union.
Without proper precautions, Maxwell warned cookouts and other events can quickly turn deadly when fireworks are used.
Nationally, fireworks accounted for about 10,500 emergency room visits, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Children aged 15 and younger were about 35 percent of those admitted for firework-related injuries, the report read.
Maxwell said children should never play with fireworks, warning that even sparklers can heat up to 1,200 degree Fahrenheit.
Carlsbad's city ordinance bans fireworks from being ignited on public lands, or in vehicles.
On private property, with the owner's consent, fireworks are not to be displayed after 10 p.m., unless a permit is approved and acquired through city staff, read the ordinance.
The ordinance also specifies which kinds of fireworks are allowed to be sold in the city, using the state's statute for "permissible fireworks."
Cone and cylindrical fountains are allowed, along with flitter sparklers, crackling devices, ground spinners, torches and wheels, read the ordinance.
Anyone who violates the city's firework ordinance is guilty of a misdemeanor, per the ordinance, and subject to arrest and imprisonment for up to a year or up to $1,000 in fines.
Permissible or not, Maxwell said proper caution is essential for safety during the displays.
"Precautions need to be taken, and taken seriously," he said. "While fireworks are pretty to those who are watching, fireworks can be very, very dangerous."
Anyone witnessing a fireworks emergency is asked to call 911, while noise complaints can be filed through the Carlsbad Police Department at 575-885-2111 if within the city limits.
In the county, complaints can be made at 575-616-7155.
The City of Carlsbad will host its annual Fourth of July fireworks display on July 4 at the beach area along the Pecos River.
The display will start when darkness falls.
Coordinated by the Carlsbad Fire Department, the fireworks show draws more people to Carlsbad than any other event all year, said Carlsbad Fire Chief Rick Lopez.
He said he expected "tens of thousands" of people to attend this year's show, which will feature more fireworks than any other past display.
"It'll be bigger and better," he said.
He said a team of 12 fire department employees will manage the loading and launching during the show.
This year will also offer added handicap parking at the beach area, and a shuttle service from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from the free parking lot at The Cascades.
"Trying to do it yourself seems simple," Lopez said. "But there is a lot that goes into it. Safety is a big deal for us."
The fire department is assisted by Carlsbad police, Eddy County Emergency Services and the Eddy County Volunteer Fire Service in overseeing the event.
Lopez said the display offers an opportunity for agencies to practice collaborating for incidents throughout the year.
"We treat it like an incident." he said. "We use it as a learning tool."
Local 1687 fireworks safety tips:
* Only buy fireworks from a licensed seller.
* Read and follow directions.
* Have water handy in case of emergency.
* Only use fireworks in an open, outdoor area.
* Light fireworks on a surface, and beware of the wind.
* Do not consume alcohol when lighting fireworks.
* Avoid loose clothing.
* When igniting, wear safety goggles and close-toed shoes.
* Do not alter or combine fireworks.
* Aim fireworks away from houses, dry leaves or other flammable materials.
* Do not point fireworks at people.
* Keep body parts clear of fireworks when lighting.
* Light one at a time.
* Never relight a "dud."
* Wait 20 minutes after lighting, then approach the firework and douse it with water.