Editorial: Use your head with fireworks

Fireworks are now on sale on Whidbey Island and throughout the state but unless people use them with care, the momentum to ban their sale will continue to build.

Firecrackers, sparklers and other incendiary devices are an integral part of our Independence Day activities. They provide excitement, color and an air of celebration. They produce some of the most lasting memories of childhood. Many adults look back at their Fourth of July family celebrations with fondness, recalling Dad in a haze of smoke, burning punk in hand, valiantly heading for the next fuse to be lit.

Fireworks have had a checkered legal history in this state. They were legal for years, then entirely banned, then regulations were loosened to allow only “safe and sane” fireworks. The ban was undercut when Indian reservations started selling the whole spectrum of fireworks, from large, dangerous firecrackers to bottle rockets than can threaten an entire neighborhood with fire.

Fireworks, safely used, are an important part of our history and the culture surrounding Independence Day. But it seems that each year, irresponsible use of fireworks is growing. Houses burn, people are injured and pets are terrified for days on end.

Judging by news accounts of area cities banning the use of fireworks, their days may be numbered. The only way to stave off another ban is for everyone to use them responsibly. Use only legal fireworks, have a bucket of water nearby, follow local regulations and respect your neighbor’s right to quiet late at night. No one should have to worry about a bottle rocket coming down on their roof.

Have a safe and sane 2010 Independence Day celebration. If everyone acts responsibly, future generations will also be able to enjoy fireworks. If not, the legal use of fireworks will sadly become a thing of the past.

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