It's amazing to me that fireworks could be such a contentious issue, though I realize that most people have not lost their home in a traumatic wildfire. As was mentioned this morning on a local radio station by the fire chief, our fire (the Oregon Trail Heights fire) was not started by fireworks, but a similar scenario is not hard to envision given the right conditions. All you have to do is Google "housefire fireworks," and you'll see this isn't an overstated risk.
I do concede that many people still want to set off fireworks. So if you are inclined to do so, please be smart.
1. Don't set off fireworks in extremely dry conditions, or next to a field of dry brush. We are right next to a field of sagebrush, yet we are not classified as the foothills (where it is illegal to set off any fireworks). It is not responsible to set off fireworks anywhere near this brush. Fires have been started before, and I hate to say this, but I am certain they will be started by fireworks again.
2. Only set off LEGAL fireworks. There's a reason that certain fireworks are illegal, and it's not just to piss off the libertarians. Light a sparkler. Don't light off a mortar shell.
3. Don't let young children light the fireworks. In 2010, there were 8,600 ER visits for children due to fireworks. Sparklers burn at a temperature of up to 2,000 degrees. Please supervise older children, and do not let younger ones play with them.
4. Spray off fireworks before throwing in a trash can. There was a report locally last week of someone who lost part of their home because they put hot ashes in a trash can in their garage. If you are throwing away firework debris (which is the responsible thing to do), douse them in water first. And then put them in a trash can that's not in your garage (or house).
5. Watch a public display. Our neighbors get together at the end of the street and watch the city display. We sit around and laugh and catch up. It's safe, and the display is better than anything we could light off anyway.
Whatever you do, please stay safe this holiday weekend.