Snaps, crackles and pops will fill the air this Fourth of July as resi-
dents celebrate the nation's birthday.
Fireworks stands in Sequim's city limits have been selling state-legal fireworks since noon Sunday, June 28, and can continue until 9 p.m. July 5.
Washington law mandates the timetable.
Two local churches are the only businesses to have applied to have fireworks stands in
Sequim this year.
Sequim Worship Center's stand is at Sequim Village Center, 609 W. Washington St., and
Sequim Valley Foursquare has its stand adjacent to the Walmart parking lot, 1284 W. Washington St.
Proceeds for Sequim Worship Center benefit the Royal Rangers program, the Assembly of God's Christian-focused Boy Scout-type program.
Pastor Randy Hurlbut of Sequim Valley Foursquare said the fireworks proceeds are their biggest fundraiser of the year for their children and youth ministries. The church has used fireworks money in the past for a swing set and to remodel their youth room.
"It helps us buy big ticket items," Hurlbut said.
"We do this for a week in place of five car washes."
Both local Native American tribes, the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, sell fireworks and firecrackers throughout the year.
State law allows them to sell and use specific fireworks, including firecrackers, bottle rockets and missiles, on tribal land.
Legal fireworks should read "consumer fireworks" on the label.
Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said being caught with illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor that could result in $250-$1,000 in fines and/or jail time.
The county and city of Sequim abide by Washington state law which says fireworks can be used at the following times.
- Noon-11 p.m. June 28
- 9 a.m.-11 p.m. June 29-July 3
- 9 a.m.-midnight July 4
- 9 a.m.-11 p.m. July 5
- 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 31
Why buy fireworks?
Despite opposition from fire
safety groups, fireworks continue to be a large market.
Darryle Adams has sold fireworks for the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe for 24 years adjacent to 7 Cedars Casino.
Adams said people come from all over, even from out-of-state, for fireworks.
"They come for everything," he said. "Each customer buys something different."
His most popular purchases are artillery shells for adults and smoke balls for children, he said.
Adams finds the displays for consumer fireworks are becoming better each year.
One bottle rocket he is selling emits a smiley face in the air. Adams tries to buy things for the fireworks booth he would enjoy, too, he said.
"People love the colored smoke, loudness, colors and thrill of it all," Adams said.
"The biggest thing is celebrating Independence Day, of course."
Margie and Juan Macias, who own and operate Margie's Fireworks by the Elwha Casino in Port Angeles, have run their stand more than 30 years.
"I think it's a family thing. We like to watch the kids get into it," Juan said.
"Our grandkids get into it more than our kids did back when we started," Margie said.
The couple started the stand for extra income but they also enjoy fireworks as a hobby and have friends who come out annually just to buy fireworks from them. Their most popular items are large family packs of multiple fireworks.
Juan said people continually buy the "classics" like "Whistlin' Pete's," parachutes, pagodas, oriental lamps and Saturn missiles.
The "Warhead" is Margie's favorite, which shoots multiple bright shots into the air. Juan likes bottle rockets.
"You light them and they go up.
It's not rocket science," he said. He never puts them in a bottle though.
"Holding them is too dangerous," Juan said.
To the Macias family, Safety is No. 1.
"You have to have common sense as a parent, too," Juan said. "You need to always be careful with what you give them."
They said glow necklaces are a big hit with children and probably the safest thing for them to have fun with on the holiday.
Hurlbut agrees that fireworks can be fun when used correctly.
"We're selling entertainment but promoting safety," he said.
"This is a big blast when done right."
Groups like The National Fire Protection Association want to abolish consumer fireworks altogether. They believe thousands are wrongfully injured each year.
Washington is one of several states that allow most consumer fireworks. Five Washington counties, not Clallam, completely outlaw fireworks.
The Washington Office of the State Fire Marshal reports that fireworks-related fires cost $228,018 in damage in 2008.
It also reports bottle rockets are the leading cause of fireworks-related fires and consumer fireworks are one of the leading causes of wildland fires. State parks ban fireworks from all of their areas.
Benedict would support a complete ban on fireworks statewide, too, he said.
"I was in the Navy 22 years and I don't see the point of blowing up stuff to celebrate our independence," Benedict said.
He pointed out it is hard to tell legal versus illegal fireworks while patrolling.
"It's a tremendous strain to have deputies respond to all the calls," Benedict said. "If we don't see it, then we can't rely on the word of others alone."
The sheriff's department relies on "Education over enforcement," he said.
Many local animal experts feel Independence Day can be detrimental to household pets and livestock.
Scott Chandler, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, said the loud noises frighten dogs and cats so much that the humane society's numbers for found dogs substantially increases before and after the holiday.
"It's very stressful for them," Chandler said. "Do everything you can to keep them calm."
He recommends pet owners put identification on their animals because it's hard to predict when/if they will run away after being startled.
Carmen Czachor, veterinarian at Family Veterinary Clinic in Port Angeles, said there are inexpensive pill sedatives available that can calm an animal down for the holiday.
"They might need a physical exam before being prescribed sedatives if the animal has pre-existing conditions," Czachor said.
She agrees that keeping a pet indoors is a good idea, particularly in a room with no windows.
"Behavior modification is important," she said.
"Give them something to do like chew on a bone, a toy or a Buster cube (a toy with food in it)."
Matthew Nash can be reached at email@example.com.
These tips come from the
National Council on Fireworks Safety.
• Always have a hose and/or bucket of water nearby.
• Use fireworks outdoors only.
• Light fireworks on a hard, flat and level surface.
• Always light fireworks in a clear open area.
• Be cautious of lighting fireworks in windy conditions.
• Use fireworks as intended and don't alter or combine them.
• Never relight a "dud" firework; wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Always store fireworks in a cool, dry place and dispose of them properly.
• Safety glasses are recommended.
• Keep a safe distance from the fireworks.
• Do not drink alcohol before and/or during lighting fireworks. Have a "designated shooter."
• Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives.
• Use common sense.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, sparklers burning hands and legs cause approximately 16 percent of all consumer fireworks injuries. The majority of sparkler injuries occur to young children.
These steps can help prevent sparkler-related injuries:
• Children under the age of 12 should not use sparklers without close adult supervision.
• Remain standing while using sparklers.
• Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
• Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
• Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers.
• Sparklers' wires and sticks remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Drop spent
sparklers directly in water.
• Never hand a lit sparkler to another person. Give them the unlit sparkler and then light it.
• Always stand at least 6 feet from another person while using sparklers.
• Never throw sparklers.
• Show children how to hold sparklers away from their body and at arm's length.
• Teach children not to wave sparklers, especially wooden stick sparklers, or run while holding sparklers.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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