The COVID-19 pandemic has nearly eliminated what’s typically the safest way to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. Residents who use consumer fireworks need to be safe, responsible and should consider the risks of injury, property loss, and impacts to their neighborhoods.
King County Fire Marshal Chris Ricketts says that if you decide to use consumer fireworks, please do so with caution and follow local rules and regulations. In addition, remember that social distancing and wearing a mask is required in public.
“This is not a normal year,” he says. “We’re limited in terms of how we celebrate safely as a community. People who use fireworks at their homes and in their neighborhoods need to remember that it comes with risks. It’s essential to practice fireworks safety. Last year, fireworks resulted in two deaths and 36 injuries. We don’t want that to happen again”
Although he strongly advises against using consumer fireworks, Ricketts offered a few instructions to legally and safely do so:
- Fireworks are banned in many King County cities (check with your local jurisdiction)
- Fireworks purchased from approved firework stands can only be discharged in unincorporated King County on July 4, and they must be sold by Washington State licensed retailers at approved permitted stands.
- Fireworks not purchased from a state-licensed, fireworks retailor cannot legally be discharged in unincorporated King County. They may be considered explosive material.
- If it has a stick or fins and it goes up, or if it explodes, it is illegal in Washington State.
- Fireworks are not allowed in King County Parks, per King County Code.
- Fireworks may be discharged only on July 4 from 9 a.m. to midnight.
- Fireworks sales can legally start at noon, June 28 through 11 p.m. After that, sales are allowed 9 a.m.-11 p.m., through July 4. You must be at least 16 years old, with photo identification, to purchase fireworks.
- If you choose to buy and discharge fireworks, follow these safety tips:
- Always have a responsible adult light all fireworks.
- Use eye protection.
- Have a charged garden hose or a fire extinguisher handy.
- Use fireworks outdoors only—away from buildings, houses with wood exteriors, trees, and dry fields.
- Avoid aerial fireworks.
- Light one item at a time, move away quickly, and have everyone keep a safe distance.
- If a device does not light or fire, an adult should wait at least five minutes before approaching it.
- Clean up all debris and soak used fireworks in water before disposing of them.
- Keep pets safe (Regional Animal Services of King County provides information about fireworks safety for pets).