Be safe and smart this Fourth of July | Opinion

The Fourth of July is a time for parades, barbecues—and loud bangs.

Fireworks are a time-honored American tradition on the Fourth, but one accompanying tradition that I tire of is when people don’t follow the rules, and wind up bothering their neighbors, making a big mess, and hurting themselves or others.

There were 45 fireworks related fires and 54 injuries reported in King County in 2013—down from 70 fires and 51 injuries in 2012.

So, with local firefighters gearing up to deal with the fallout from all the fun, let’s remember the rules.

The cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend will be actively enforcing fireworks laws this July 4 to ensure a safer holiday for everybody.

• In Snoqualmie and North Bend, fireworks may be discharged from 9 a.m. to midnight. The fee for breaking the rule is  $124.

• No fireworks may be possessed or discharged in any public park. Again, violation means a $124 fine.

• By state law, fireworks sales are limited to people age 16 and older. Only adults should light fireworks or handle sparklers

• Keep a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher nearby to put out stray sparks.

• Teach children to “stop, drop, and roll.” Fireworks can cause fires and burn people.

• Consider pet safety and security. Explosions really ruin your pet’s day, frightening animals and sometimes causing them to run away.

• Use of illegal explosive devices can bring a fine of $5,000 and/or one year in prison.

• Streets and alleys cannot be blocked off to traffic without a special event permit from the the city.

If you purchase fireworks for the holiday, be sure you are getting legal fireworks by purchasing them from state-licensed stands. Fire crackers, bottle rockets, missiles, and rockets are legal for sale on tribal lands, but become illegal when taken off the tribal reservation. Find out what’s illegal at www.cityofsnoqualmie.org.

Public Fireworks Displays

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks display. The closest displays to Snoqualmie are the Great Carnation 4th of July Celebration at Tolt-McDonald Park and the Bellevue Family 4th at Bellevue Downtown Park. A full list of fireworks displays in King County is available on the Office of the State Fire Marshal website, www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/firemars.htm.

There are safety tips posted there that parents should review with their children and teenagers.

Statewide data continued to show a steady decline in the total number of fireworks-related incidents occurring in the state, according to State Fire Marshal Charles Duffys’ annual Fireworks Report. The state report also shows a trend over the past five years, with considerable progress being made toward becoming a safer Washington.

I find it interesting that the King County Fire Chief’s Association is calling for the end to the sale and discharge of fireworks in King County.

Personally, I think that’s a step too far. Most people are wise enough to handle fireworks with care. But it’s easy to forget the rules. So please be safe and smart with fireworks this season, obey the law. Respect your neighbors, keep safe and have a blast. We can do all at once, can’t we?


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