Fourth of July weekend: Have a safe, sane holiday

This Sunday is the Fourth of July and that means celebrating the independence of the United States of America in the traditional way: by blowing stuff up. Just be careful this holiday weekend. Worried about running afoul of the law? Burning the house down? Ending up in the emergency room missing a limb? Causing your dog’s ears to explode? Then keep the information that follows in mind for a safe and sane Independence Day celebration.

All fireworks are illegal in the City of Tacoma. The city banned personal-use fireworks in 1993. Fire inspectors and police officers have been conducting education and fireworks confiscation patrols within city limits since June 28. The patrols, which begin at noon and end at 2 a.m., will continue through July 6. Tacoma Fire Department dispatchers will be answering a Fireworks Hotline – 253/573-2525 – during hours when fireworks patrols are active (noon-2am). At other times, fireworks complaints should be directed through 9-1-1. Those who live outside Tacoma city limits should check with their local law enforcement officials regarding fireworks laws. 

If you do live in an area that allows personal-use fireworks, be sure and exercise common sense in order to keep people and property safe.
Keep vigilant for fires, especially if it’s dry outside and make sure all fireworks are totally extinguished.

It’s a good idea to keep a functioning water hose nearby in case something does catch on fire.

In order to lessen the chances of a fire even starting, consider spraying down the area.

With the possible exception of sparklers, it’s not wise to hold fireworks in your hand, as you increase your risk of getting burned or worse.

Light fireworks and move away as quickly as possible.

Also, don’t forget about your four-legged friends, advises the Human Society for Tacoma & Pierce County, as pets can be terrified by the noise and activities of the day. “Some dogs, viewing the backyard fireworks as a threat, will try to attack them, which can result in injuries,” said Bob Walter, Education Director for the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County. “Others will try to escape the noise and begin running in panic. Some of these end up getting hit by cars or being taken to the animal shelter.”

Since Fido probably won’t appreciate the spectacle, avoid bringing your pet to any fireworks shows.

Keep your pets inside your home in a quiet place, with all windows and doors shut.

Provide your pet with their favorite toy, chew bones or other distraction and remove any items that may be harmful to your pet if they become frightened and destructive. Leave the television or radio on to keep your pet company while you are away.

Do not leave your pet outside and unattended, even if they’re in a fenced in yard or on a chain. Your pet may panic, escape and run off, or if on a chain, may get the chain tangled up and hang themselves.

Don’t take your pet with you and leave them in the car. Cars can heat up to a deadly temperature, even with the windows cracked, in a very short time, resulting in heat exhaustion and even death.

Make sure your pet is wearing a current identification tag, so if they do escape they will have an improved chance of returning home.

For more information, contact Bob Walter at 253/284-5814.

AAA reports the average price of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline in Washington ($2.116 per gallon) is declining heading into the Fourth of July weekend. Gas prices in Washington have decreased 19 cents since Memorial Day weekend. The national average for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.907 per gallon.

Even though prices remain higher than a year ago, AAA predicts a record-breaking number of Americans will travel during the upcoming holiday. AAA estimates that 39.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home, up 3.4 percent from last year’s Fourth of July holiday.

Approximately 34.4 million travelers plan to go by motor vehicle, a 3 percent increase from a year ago.

The Tacoma Freedom Fair is a great option for those who want to enjoy a Fourth of July day of fun, including a spectacular fireworks show that begins at approximately 10:20 p.m. Tacoma Freedom Fair events will cover two miles of the Ruston Way waterfront. Highlights include the Tacoma Air Show, an outdoor market, an international food fair and fun and games for the whole family. One of the largest Fourth of July celebrations in the region, the annual event draws 150,000 spectators every year. For more information, visit