Opinion

Happy Fourth of July | Editorial

Any other year, if you miss the island’s Fourth of July celebration, you could say, “Oh, well, there’s always next year.”

If you miss this year’s celebration, you’ll have to wait another 100 years. So don’t miss it.

This year’s Fourth of July celebration coincides with Friday Harbor’s Centennial. Representatives of the Lummi Indian Nation, the First People of San Juan Island, will participate in the parade and will present three days of cultural sharing at the Grange and the San Juan Historical Museum. The Friday Harbor Fire Department celebrates its centennial as well with several events. (Regular annual events will also take place: the parade, Rock the Dock, activities in Roche Harbor, as well as fireworks shows in Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor. See Island Scene in this week's Journal or the story on SanJuanJournal.com/Lifestyles for guide to events.)

Make the Fourth memorable — and safe.

Two recent wild fires on Orcas Island have sparked awareness about being safe in very dry conditions.

Outdoor burning is now closed, with the exception of 2-foot diameter recreational fires. According to fire officials, we have the highest fire danger in the state right now.

In just a few days, personal fireworks will make their annual debut. Safe and sane fireworks (meaning the kind that don’t take off and fly) can only be used from 9 a.m. to midnight on July 4.

Firecrackers, bottle rockets, M-80s and any improvised, homemade or altered explosive devices such as tennis balls or cherry bombs are illegal in Washington state. Those in possession of illegal fireworks can be charged with a felony.

We have extremely dry conditions right now. If you set off fireworks, please take caution.

Here are some tips to ensure you don’t light up more than the night sky.

— Only use legal fireworks.

— Keep a bucket of water nearby in which to place all used fireworks. Have a water hose or fire extinguisher nearby to put out stray sparks.

— Have a designated adult light all fireworks.

— Use eye protection and wear safety goggles.

— Light one at a time, move away quickly, and keep at a safe distance until the display is finished.

— To prevent injuries, never throw fireworks and never hold fireworks in your hand.

— Clean up all debris when finished.

— Duds can be dangerous. If a device does not light or fire, an adult should wait at least five minutes and approach it carefully. Place it in a bucket of water to soak.

Those riding the ferry over the weekend should remember that Washington State Patrol will be using explosive-detection canine teams to screen vehicles. These dogs are trained to sniff out explosives, which includes fireworks. Anticipate and allow for screening time and store your fireworks where they are easily accessible for State Patrol personnel to examine.

Have a safe and memorable Fourth of July.

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