Fireworks safety worthy of celebration

Mark Meier of Eatonville took his three children to the Puyallup Tribe’s Firecracker Alley on a recent afternoon so they could pick out their favorite fireworks.

But the choices came with limits. Meier said he allows his kids to handle only smaller, “kid-friendly” fireworks such as bottle spinners and sparklers because of near-accidents with fireworks when he was younger, he said.

“We always see an ambulance going up the street on the Fourth, and it’s a reminder that you have to stay safe,” Meier said during his visit Friday.

With the Fourth of July just days away and U.S. residents stocking up on fireworks, South Sound officials are reminding people to abide by the rules that cover when and where fireworks displays can be set off.

Fireworks-related fires and injuries are on the decline, both statewide and in Pierce County, according to records collected by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. In 2013, the state reported 341 fireworks accidents, the lowest number in 10 years. Pierce County had 32 accidents, the third-highest of the 39 counties.

Tacoma police attribute a significant reduction in fireworks-related injuries to the city’s ban on fireworks, which dates to 1992.

“We don’t see kids coming in with blown-off fingers and missing eyes because of fireworks,” said Loretta Cool, spokeswoman for the Tacoma Police Department.

Loretta Castillo, owner of Kings Fireworks at Firecracker Alley, said she tells parents to keep children away from fireworks and to use a long-stemmed lighter to prevent burns.

Many accidents are caused by carelessness and a lack of general safety when the person lighting fireworks is under the influence of alcohol, she said.

“With alcohol you get a little free-er and a little braver,” she said. “I always tell people to be safe.”

Fireworks are banned at all times in Tacoma, Fircrest, Ruston, Steilacoom, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and in all city, county and state parks