With a countywide outdoor burn ban currently in place, Thurston County's first responders are urging residents to help keep this Fourth of July safe from fire and leave the fireworks to the pros. And if county residents do buy their own fireworks, following the laws and adhering to a few key safety tips will make this holiday a celebration to remember instead of a tragic accident you'd rather forget.
The sale of fireworks in unincorporated Thurston County is legal only at inspected and approved stands from noon on June 28 through 9 p.m. on July 4. Daily sales before July 4 are from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Discharging fireworks is legal only between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on July 3 and 4. The sale and discharge of fireworks is not allowed in the cities of Olympia or Lacey.
The Director of TCOMM 9-1-1, Jim Quackenbush, said the arrival of Independence Day also brings the unfortunate arrival of fireworks-related injuries. Each year, TCOMM 9-1-1 dispatches hundreds of fireworks-related calls, some of them involving serious injuries.
"The safest bet by far is to leave it to the pros and enjoy one of the licensed public fireworks displays," Quackenbush said. "But if you're going to light your own fireworks, following a few basic safety rules will save you from heartache and injury, and could even save your life."
If you plan to use legal fireworks this Fourth of July, following a few fireworks safety tips can help keep your holiday fun, safe and sane. The Thurston County Sheriff's Office has the following fireworks tips:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
Because of the dry, hot weather that's expected through the holiday weekend, the Thurston County Sheriff's Office plans to make every effort to respond to fireworks complaints when possible, but residents are reminded that the priority for deputies will be protection of life first and foremost. For noise complaints and other fireworks complaints, such as using fireworks when it is illegal to or using illegal fireworks, deputies will make an effort to respond based on the current call load and what type of calls they are handling at the time.
"We certainly understand that the potential for injury or property damage exists any time fireworks are discharged," said Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Cliff Ziesemer, "but we're going to have to focus our limited resources on the situations where there is an immediate threat to lives and property."
First responders also remind residents to call 9-1-1 for emergencies only. That includes situations where lives or property are in danger, or if you see an illegal burn or evidence of a wildfire. For situations that do not involve an immediate threat to life or property, such as fireworks noise complaints, call the Thurston County Communications business line at (360) 704-2740.
To learn more about fireworks safety and injury prevention, go to the Washington State Patrol's web page on fireworks safety at www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/fireworks.htm
. The Washington State Patrol website also has a list of public fireworks displays in Thurston County and throughout the state.
- Fireworks sales in unincorporated Thurston County: June 28 through July 4 between
9 a.m. and 11 p.m.
- Discharge of fireworks in unincorporated Thurston County: July 3 and 4 ONLY between
9 a.m. and 11 p.m.