Don’t blow it on the Fourth of July: Be smart with fireworks

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Don’t blow it with fireworks on July 4. That’s the message from firefighters at Snohomish County Fire District 1 as they encourage citizens to be good neighbors, skip the trip to the fireworks stand and attend a public display instead.

Fire District 1 is the largest provider of fire and emergency medical services in Snohomish County, serving more than 225,000 residents in unincorporated communities, Brier, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Woodway.

“Fires started by fireworks have caused more than $3.25 million in damage and have displaced families and individuals from 15 households in Fire District 1 since 2005. In all cases, the fireworks were set off by someone other than the fire victim,” said Steve Sherman, deputy chief of fire prevention. “This trend concerns us. We need the public’s help to make this a safer, less destructive July 4.”

He said people often don’t consider these consequences when they use fireworks. “That’s a mindset we would like to change. Many people who ordinarily are responsible, law-abiding good neighbors see no harm in breaking the law on July 4 by setting off illegal fireworks,” Sherman said. “It’s easy to think it won’t happen to you, it won’t be your fireworks that cause a fire or hurt someone. But the truth is no matter how cautious you are, you cannot control where aerial fireworks will land. That bottle rocket you set off in fun can have tragic results if it lands on your neighbor’s wood deck or shake roof.”

Injuries that occur as a result of fireworks use are also a concern for firefighters, Sherman said. “We typically see three to five serious injuries in our service area. Most patients are males in their teens or early 20s with hand or eye injuries.”

Illegal fireworks are responsible for the bulk of injuries, but legal fireworks can cause serious injuries too. Sparklers can heat up to more than 1,200 degrees, posing a serious danger in a child’s hand, Sherman said. “Only adults should light fireworks. Just because they’re legal, doesn’t mean they’re safe. You need to exercise caution, use good judgment and properly follow fireworks instructions.”

Sherman offered these three suggestions for safe celebrating:

Attend a public fireworks display
If your Independence Day celebration won’t be complete without fireworks, plan to attend one of the many public displays offered in Snohomish County. This is the safest way to enjoy fireworks.

Observe bans and restrictions
Fireworks are banned in many cities including Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds and Woodway in the Fire District 1 service area. In unincorporated Snohomish County and Brier, fireworks can only be discharged on July 4 from 9 a.m. to midnight. Fireworks are not allowed in parks or on school property.

Don’t use or tolerate illegal fireworks
Be a good neighbor and a good citizen. Don’t use illegal fireworks and don’t tolerate the use of illegal fireworks by family members, friends or partygoers. Fireworks purchased on tribal lands, out of state or over the Internet may be illegal. Firecrackers, bottle rockets and skyrockets are all illegal to possess and discharge.

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