Let safety, not stupidity, come first on the Fourth

Before you light that fuse, turn on your brain.

That’s one of the messages firefighters, police and emergency-room workers repeat at this time each year. It’s frustrating that such an obvious message must be sent at all, let alone year after year. But the promise of smoke, sparks and explosions seems to bring out many people’s inner idiot.

So take a moment before your holiday revelry begins and resolve to put safety first. Really, it’s not hard to do.

The only real way to be safe and sane on Independence Day, of course, is to leave the fireworks to the experts and enjoy one of the many shows planned throughout the area. If you simply can’t get through the Fourth of July without some pyromania of your own – and you live in area where fireworks aren’t banned – use some common sense so you and your kids can have a happy Fifth of July, too.

Remember that fireworks and children are a bad combination without adult supervision. Robert Marshall, fire prevention specialist for Fire District 8 in Lake Stevens, notes that the hand-held sparklers young children love to wave around can get as hot as 2,000 degrees at their tips. Contact with skin, hair, eyes or clothing can quickly turn delight into disaster.

Marshall recommends creating a safety zone around the area where fireworks are being lit, making sure the area is free of dry grass and other flammable materials, and always having a hose at the ready, along with a water bucket for fireworks that have been discharged but are still smoldering.

And please, for the sake of your own life and limb and the nerves of those around you, refrain from setting off illegal explosives like M-80s and cherry bombs. They can be as loud and destructive as dynamite. If you’re dumb enough to possess them and get caught, get ready to face a felony charge.

The State Patrol reports that more than 800 fireworks-related emergency incidents were reported last year in Washington, causing more than $1 million in property loss. Of the more serious injuries reported, more than half were the result of holding or throwing a lit firework.

In other words, they were caused by stupidity. And that, believe it or not, is a preventable condition.

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