Independence Day. That time of year when we celebrate our country’s independence from British rule by blasting copious amounts of chemically modified gunpowder into the air.
It's also the time of year when the Inlander HQ gets bombarded by press releases from government agencies concerned about public safety. Cough, cough, Office of the State Fire Marshal.
As fun and patriotic as shooting roman candles out of your barehand in your driveway can be, fireworks are dangerous. (And illegal in most of Spokane County.) Here are resources if something goes wrong or if you just can’t handle your neighbors’ flashing smoke bomb dance party at 3 am.
For buying fireworks: Purchase fireworks from licensed fireworks stands only. If the packages aren’t clearly labeled with a warning, a caution or a statement of hazard, they’re probably not legit. Fireworks with no name, manufacturer or country of origin probably aren’t either. Another telltale sign of sketchy fireworks is lack of color in packaging – brown paper bag wrapping and electrical tape is often a sign of illegal or homemade fireworks. Buying fireworks on the Internet is also a bad idea. The Fed-Ex guy might not like that.
For using fireworks: Find a safe place to shoot off your fireworks. Right now, the potential for fires caused by unsafe fireworks use is high because of the heat in the area, so be aware that flammable things might be extra flammable this year. Wear nonflammable clothing, read instructions, use proper lighting utensils, keep a bucket of water handy – here’s a list of safety guidelines from the Fireworks Alliance.
For being considerate: Fireworks are fun, but they’re not everyone’s favorite. That doesn’t just mean the balding neighbor across the cul-de-sac — fireworks scare and stress out many household pets. Keep your furry friends safe and calm by keeping them inside, distracting them with radio or TV noise, even staying with them or calming them with medication (talk to your vet first). If you decide to take them out, make sure they’re collared, tagged and leashed. Do not leave them in the car – heat exhaustion can be accelerated by stress and cracked windows just won’t cut it.
For reporting fireworks: Remember that calling 911 is for emergencies only. Emergencies are instances when immediate action poses a threat or danger to yourself or others. In the case of fireworks-related injury or fire or illegal or homemade fireworks, don’t hesitate to call 911. For fireworks violations, such as ignoring bans or time of use limitations, call your local police department’s non-emergency phone number.
For your information: Keep in mind that fireworks are banned in Spokane County (exceptions are Airway Heights, Deer Park and Medical Lake) and restricted in other areas. The Washington State Fire Marshal reports that 2012 saw 354 fireworks-related fires and injuries, including 128 fires and 226 injuries, most of which happened on Independence Day itself. With fireworks, it’s best to follow the fire marshal’s three Bs of safety: be prepared, be safe, be responsible.
For your non-fireworks-related information: Garbage pickup and curbside recycling will be a day late after the Fourth of July with Thursday’s pickup on Friday, July 5, and Friday’s on Saturday, July 6. Here’s a list of places that will be closed in observance of Independence Day: City Hall, Municipal Court, the Waste-to-Energy facility, garbage transfer stations and public library branches. City Council took the week off and will resume Monday, July 8. And finally, parking is free.