Use caution when celebrating Fourth of July

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Independence Day is Saturday, but Fourth of July celebrations seem to get started at least a day or two earlier.

This may or might not be legal, depending on exactly where the fireworks are being ignited and the types being used.

It is important to use good sense when buying and igniting the things that go snap, crackle — and even boom!

In addition, be respectful to others. Keep in mind that pets, dogs in particular, are frightened by fireworks. Follow the rules and take every possible precaution to not start a fire.

It’s important to know which fireworks are and aren’t legal.

The rules on the discharging of fireworks are strict in the city of Walla Walla compared to the areas outside the city.

Pretty much everything that goes boom — or even bang, crack or pop — is forbidden within the city limits. Fireworks purchased outside the city limits are not allowed in Walla Walla. The city code specifically prohibits fireworks that travel more than 20 feet off the ground, travel more than 15 feet along the ground or are specifically designed to produce noise.

Fireworks can be legally used in the city limits from 9 p.m. till midnight on July 4.

The rules are more liberal in the county and College Place. The city of College Place allows fireworks from 9 p.m. until 11 p.m July 1 through July 4. Fireworks sold in College Place can be used in College Place.

Some of the high-flying stuff is OK to be sold and used in the county. Check the specific rules for your area.

Since it’s sizzle — and loud booms — that sells, it is no accident the majority of fireworks stands are outside of Walla Walla.

And, given the bulk of fireworks are purchased just outside the city, it is a reasonable assumption (backed up by years and years of anecdotal evidence) that a lot of illegal fireworks will be used in Walla Walla on and around July 4.

Law enforcement officers do what they can to keep abuse of the law to a minimum, but it is simply impossible for officers to respond to every call in a matter of minutes.

When using legal fireworks such as fountains, please clean up your mess.

It’s likely that single family or neighborhood fireworks displays will be on the rise this year as the coronavirus pandemic has put the kibosh on community events, including Fourth of July in Pioneer Park and the fireworks at Walla Walla Community College.

If you do have a personal fireworks event that includes those outside your family, please wear masks for COVID-19 protection.

Whatever you choose to do on Independence Day, have fun and be safe.