Use fireworks legally, safely Fourth of July

Area residents also need to properly dispose of debris

VANCOUVER — With fireworks sales beginning Thu., June 28, Clark County reminds residents to comply with local and state laws and use fireworks safely and responsibly.

In unincorporated areas north of Northwest/Northeast 219th Street, fireworks can be used from noon to 11 p.m. June 28, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 29-July 3 and 9 a.m. to midnight July 4. In unincorporated areas south of Northwest/Northeast of 219th Street, fireworks can be used from 9 a.m. to midnight July 4.

Earlier this month, the Clark County Council voted to eliminate that dividing line and restrict fireworks use in unincorporated areas to Independence Day, but that change won’t take effect until 2019.

Fireworks also can be used from 6 p.m. Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. Jan. 1 in unincorporated areas.

Vancouver has banned fireworks within its city limits. Clark County provides a handy online chart and interactive map that allows anyone with an online device to quickly determine the rules for fireworks based on their address.

Clark County will have patrols out enforcing the fireworks laws. People who illegally use fireworks, such as curfew or device-type violations, are subject to a $500 civil fine for first offenses and $1,000 for subsequent violations. Residents can report illegal fireworks use by calling 3-1-1.

Safety first

Residents and visitors are urged to celebrate the Fourth of July with extra caution because of the dry conditions throughout Clark County. An outdoor burn ban will take effect on Sunday, July 1, two weeks earlier than the typical July 15-Sept. 30 period when outdoor burning is prohibited.

If you plan to buy fireworks, the best option is to purchase them locally from a stand inspected by the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office. Fireworks purchased outside the county may not be legal locally.

A few important safety reminders:

  • Always have a bucket of water and water hose ready to douse any fire.
  • Assign a responsible adult to supervise fireworks use.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from buildings, vehicles and dry vegetation.
  • Never aim fireworks at people or structures.
  • Never attempt to alter fireworks or relight “duds” that fail to ignite.

Proper cleanup, disposal

Responsible fireworks use doesn’t end when the revelry is over. Residents need to clean up their debris and properly disposed of used and unused fireworks.

Fireworks debris should not be left in the street because it is considered littering, a violation of Washington law and Clark County Code. Clark County Public Works does not provide extra street sweeping after Independence Day.

If not properly cleaned up, fireworks debris can be washed into storm drains that lead to streams, rivers and other waterways. Fireworks contain a number of heavy metals and other chemicals that can build up in fish and wildlife. Residents can reduce this contamination by sweeping up fireworks debris as soon as possible and not using fireworks near waterways.

Even after the Fourth of July is over, fireworks remain potential sources of fire and worker injury. Improper disposal of fireworks puts garbage and recycling workers at increased risk of injury from fires in their trucks and at transfer stations.

Fireworks and fireworks debris are not recyclable. Do not put them in recycling carts because they will contaminate recyclable materials.

All used fireworks should be treated as garbage. Put used fireworks in a bucket of water overnight. Remove them from the water and put them in a garbage bag and into your garbage can. Dump the water onto grass, dirt or other landscaping where it won’t flow into storm drains. Do not pour the water onto pavement or into the street.

Never put unused fireworks in your garbage or recycling. They are explosives and can cause serious harm to workers and cause fires. Do not take unused fireworks to transfer stations because they do not accept explosives.

Some fire and police stations in Clark County will accept unused fireworks. Residents should contact specific stations to see if they accept unused fireworks during their business hours or visit the Recycling A-Z website to search for disposal locations.

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