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Residents urged to take care when using fireworks

SNQOUALMIE VALLEY - With retail stands for fireworks opening June 28 in King County, the Washington state fire marshal is asking citizens to "celebrate safely."

In 2002, 231 fireworks incidents were reported to the state fire marshal. There was no adult supervision in 18 percent of these incidents. Supervision is paramount in keeping children safe. Fireworks should not be available to tempt the curiosity of children. They should be stored in a secured location to prohibit access by children.

Statistics collected from incidents in Washington State each year indicate the leading cause of fireworks injuries and/or fires is unsafe use of fireworks. These include: holding, throwing, tampering, leaning over, delayed ignition and uneven surfaces. Children are unaware of how dangerous these devices can be. Don't overestimate your child's ability and judgment in handling fireworks. Set family boundaries, only adults should light fireworks.

Fireworks can also be enjoyed at community fireworks displays. Contact the fireworks community event line at (888) 29July4 to learn of a community fireworks display near you. The state fire marshal urges citizens to follow these precautions when using fireworks:

* Before you light fireworks - be prepared! Purchase only legal fireworks that are available at approved stands. Talk with family members and guests about the laws for your area. Place pets indoors as they may become frightened. Keep a bucket of water nearby in which to place all used fireworks. Have a water hose or fire extinguisher nearby to put out stray sparks. Clear a level area away from things that can burn. Know the emergency number to call for your area, your address/location and basic first aid. Teach your children to "stop, drop and roll" if their clothes catch on fire.

* When lighting fireworks - be safe! Set family boundaries. Have a designated adult light all fireworks. Do not allow young children to light fireworks. Use eye protection, wear safety goggles. Light one at a time, move away quickly and keep at a safe distance until the display is finished. Use only outdoors, away from anything that can burn. To prevent injuries, never throw fireworks and never hold fireworks in your hand.

* After you finish - be responsible! Clean up all debris when finished. Duds can be dangerous; if a device does not light or fire, an adult should wait at least five minutes, approach it carefully and place it in a bucket of water. Be sure all unused fireworks, matches and lighters are out of the sight and reach of children.

With celebrations near, don't wait to talk with your kids about fireworks and safety. Most importantly, talk about safety. Weather conditions make grasses and other vegetation dry and vulnerable to fire. Use care in selecting the area where you will be discharging fireworks.

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