Editorial: Have a safe, clean July 4th

Warnings to be careful with 4th of July fireworks are commonplace, but it’s also important to clean up after yourself once all the sparklers and rockets have been reduced to ash and wastepaper.

The need for safety goes without saying. Fireworks that burn at extreme temperatures present a risk to life, limb and property.

Whidbey Island’s dedicated firefighters, most of whom are volunteers, are at heightened alert, ready to respond immediately to sparks that ignite a field or woodland, or to a child who has a firecracker blow up in his or her hand.

At a time when mass quantities of fireworks are sold from Indian reservations, it makes no sense to try to ban them at the state or local level. But law enforcement officers can and should confiscated the most dangerous fireworks, such as firecrackers and bottle rockets, and parents should make sure their children are using only “safe and sane” fireworks, and only under the close supervision of a responsible adult. It only takes a few seconds for sparks to turn to flames, or for a perfect child to be blinded or maimed by a firework used irresponsibly.

Safety is job one over the 4th of July, but cleanliness is also crucial. Most Whidbey Islanders consider themselves to be environmentally sensitive, therefore it’s puzzling that they leave literally tons of fireworks debris on the beaches after the night of July 4. Independence does not mean you are independent of common courtesy.

On the morning of July 5, the beaches of Whidbey Island look like a battle zone with spent rockets, blown up bits of paper, and colorful fireworks wrappings strewn about. Rockets leave litter hundreds of feet out in the tidelands. It’s absurd that faithful volunteers have to spend days after the holiday cleaning the beaches, and even then the can’t get it all. Make a garbage bag part of your 4th of July trip to the beach, and make sure it is filled with fireworks litter before you bring it home.

If everyone works at it, we can come through this 4th of July with no injuries and a cleaner environment than in the past. That will give us another reason to celebrate.

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