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Editorial: Light fireworks if you must, but be careful

Published July 2, 2014 3:20 pm

Take extra caution with explosives.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's that time of the year, anticipated with either patriotic enthusiasm or downright dread: fireworks season.

As expected, Utah in July will be hot, dry and prone to explosions of fire and gunpowder. Both the weather and the propensity toward public displays of pyrotechnics are seasonal, and both can be dangerous.

So it's just common sense to be prepared in order to lessen the possibilities for human injury and property damage. The argument could be made that the Utah Legislature should simply ban fireworks sales to individuals and make it illegal to shoot them off in their own yards, but that's politically unlikely.

So we urge thoughtful Utahns to give up individual or neighborhood fireworks displays and watch the shows put on by professionals in many communities on the Fourth of July and on Utah's July 24th holiday.

That would accomplish three worthwhile goals: Make the holidays safer, reduce the risk of wildfires and cut down on air pollution. However, those who still choose to do their celebrating at home should take precautions and do it legally.

The state forester and Salt Lake County have restricted the use of fireworks in the most fire-prone areas that are not part of cities. It's up to municipal governments to do the same within city boundaries. Maps showing where fireworks are illegal can be viewed at http://www.unifiedfire.org for unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County and at http://publicsafety.utah.gov/firemarshal/RestrictedFireworksAreas.html for other areas of the state.

The Department of Public Safety website also lists the dates and times of day when fireworks can be purchased and displayed.

The Red Cross also urges individuals to attend public fireworks shows, but for those who insist on home displays, that organizations offers tips to make them less dangerous (fireworks can never be considered safe):

• Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.

• Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution, and make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.

• Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud"; never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

We would add keep pets in the house, since many terrified dogs and cats go missing each year after trying to escape the noise.

Watching one of the professional fireworks shows financed by your tax dollars is the better choice. But, if you must explode things at home, be careful and be considerate of the neighbors who may need their sleep.