Officials: Play it safe and sane on Fourth

Officials are reminding members of the public to be safe and courteous while using only legal fireworks during this year’s Independence Day celebrations.

“We’re just encouraging folks to celebrate safely,” said City Manager Craig Martin. “If you celebrate with fireworks, make sure you purchase them in Oregon.”

Those are the only kind that are legal, Martin said. Fireworks from other states are illegal to discharge in Oregon.

Fireworks caused a couple of combat veterans concern last year, and they asked the council to do something about it.

There wasn’t much the city could do beyond responding to complaints.

“The council responded by saying we would do what we could to educate folks, knowing it’s a difficult problem to prevent,” Martin said.

The fireworks causing the biggest problems are noisy and illegal, Martin said. “We just encourage folks to be considerate and be mindful of the laws.”

Among reminders are the following:

n The Office of State Fire Marshal, Oregon Fire Service, natural resource agencies, Oregon fireworks wholesalers, and safety experts encourage Oregonians to “Keep it legal and keep it safe” when using fireworks.

n Oregon law bans possession, use, or sale of fireworks that fly, explode or travel more than six feet on the ground or 12 inches into the air. Fireworks commonly called bottle rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon.

n Under Oregon law, officials may seize illegal fireworks and fine offenders up to $500 per violation. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damage. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children.

There were 172 reported fireworks-related fires in Oregon during 2011, resulting in more than $1 million in property damage. Over the past five years, from 2007 through 2011, there were 942 reported fireworks-related fires in Oregon, resulting in one death, 85 civilian injuries, and more than $4.6 million in property damage.

n Possessing fireworks or pyrotechnic devices is prohibited on all national forest lands in Oregon. They pose a serious fire threat. The penalty for possessing fireworks (including sparklers) can be as high as $5,000, or imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both.

n Be prepared before lighting fireworks. Keep water available by using a garden hose or bucket.

n Be safe when lighting fireworks. Keep children and pets away from fireworks.

n Be responsible after lighting fireworks. never relight a dud. Wait 15 to 20 minutes then soak it in a bucket of water before disposal.

n Be aware. Use only legal fireworks and use them only in legal places.

Cops to be on high alert

While out on a picnic, boating, camping and spending time with family and friends, and, of course, safely enjoying fireworks, many Oregonians may not realize that the Fourth of July is the deadliest holiday period of the year on Oregon roads.

That’s why this Fourth of July and through the following weekend, Oregon State Police troopers, county deputies and city police officers will step up enforcement efforts to stop drivers before they become involved in a traffic crash or tragic highway incident. With a main focus on impaired drivers, law enforcement officers in Oregon and nationwide will again be part of the ongoing “Drive sober or get pulled over” enforcement crackdown to catch and arrest impaired drivers who put themselves and others at risk.

This year’s official Fourth of July holiday period starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and concludes at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday. Here are some safety tips to remember:

n Get rested before you are tested. Fatigued drivers are more frequent during holiday weekends because of increased travel and activity. Be patient and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.

n Pay attention. An inattentive driver is a growing safety concern on our roads and an increasing factor in traffic crashes.

n Even when workers are not present, all work zone speed limits still apply and fines double. Inactive work zones still have equipment, detours, and incomplete changes in the roadway so drivers need to slow down and be alert.

n Share the road. Don’t tailgate, and check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes

n Be on the lookout for bicyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable users of our roads.

n Always use safety restraints and child safety seats correctly.