The direct message about fireworks is short and simple:
“Keep it legal; keep it safe.”
After that, between our enthusiasm to celebrate the Fourth of July, and detailed laws aimed at protecting life and limb from the dangers of fireworks, it gets more complicated.
Oregon law bans possession, use or sale of fireworks that fly, explode or travel more than 6 feet on the ground or 12 inches in the air. Included in Oregon’s list of illegal fireworks are bottle rockets, Roman candles and firecrackers.
Since state laws vary on fireworks, it is not uncommon to see all those things – and even more potent stuff – light up the evening sky on the Fourth of July. Caught and cited, the people using those items to celebrate can face fines of up to $500 for their over-enthusiasm.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department also forbids the use of fireworks on the beaches that it controls along the state’s western edge, leading the state fire marshal to say fireworks are prohibited on all Oregon beaches, parks and campgrounds.
Needless to say, that should bring a puzzled look, even a smirk, to anyone who has seen what goes on at Sporthaven Beach at the Port of Brookings Harbor before the official community aerial display. The explanation is that the port – not the state – controls a portion of Sporthaven Beach.
It’s great to celebrate, and fun to watch, but it’s also dangerous. There were 117 reported fireworks-related fires in Oregon last year, causing more than $1.6 million in damage. Over the past five years, there have been 62 people injured.
So if you plan fireworks as part of your celebrations this weekend, please be prepared with a hose or bucket, please keep children and pets safe around your party, be particularly careful with “duds,” and only use legal fireworks in legal places.
It’s not only the law, it’s just good common sense.