Or...How to have fun while keeping all your fingers, vision and forested areas intact when celebrating the 4th of July!

In a recent year there were over 1,100 emergency incidents in Washington associated with fireworks, including 919 fires and 191 injuries. Incidents involving illegal explosive devices caused $336,073 in damages and 69 injuries. Stay safe this year and celebrate safely!


  • M80s, M100s or M1,000s are illegal explosive devices. They are NOT fireworks. They can cause amputations and other severe life-changing injuries. They are federally illegal and their use or possession has legal consequences.
  • Fireworks are prohibited on School Properties - In 2004 there were 18 fireworks-related fire incidents at schools.
  • Find out the fireworks laws for your area.

 Celebrate safely

The Southwest Washington Fire Prevention Council encourages you to celebrate the 4th of July safely and legally.

Before you light fireworks - be prepared.

  • Purchase only legal fireworks, available at approved stands.
  • Talk with family members and guests about the laws for your area.
  • Keep pets indoors; they may become frightened. Make sure that they are microchipped if possible and that their i.d. tags are up-to-date in case they escape or run away.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby in which to place all used fireworks.
  • Have a water hose or fire extinguisher nearby to put out stray sparks.
  • Know the emergency number to call for your area, your address/location, and basic first aid.

When lighting fireworks - be safe.

  • Never use fireworks in or near wild areas including forests, brush lands, grasslands or prairies.
  • Never use fireworks on windy days when they can behave erratically or blow into flammable fuels.
  • Follow family boundaries, only a designated adult should light all fireworks.
  • Light one at a time, move away quickly, and keep at a safe distance until the display is finished.
  • Use only outdoors, away from anything that can burn.
  • To prevent injuries, never throw fireworks and never hold fireworks in your hand.

After you finish - be responsible.

  • Clean up all debris when finished.
  • If a device does not light or fire, an adult should wait at least fifteen minutes and approach it carefully.
  • Place it in a bucket of water to soak.
  • Be sure all unused fireworks matches and lighters are out of the sight and reach of children.

History of Fireworks in the U.S.

Fireworks were associated with Independence Day celebrations a year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

The discovery of gunpowder and the invention of the first fireworks are traditionally credited to the Chinese, although India is also a likely source. The sound of these first firecrackers, which appeared about 1,000 years ago, was so loud that the Chinese were convinced that the noise would scare away evil spirits. Since then, any event -- a birth, death, wedding, coronation, or New Year's celebration -- has become a fitting occasion for noisemakers.

The earliest settlers brought their enthusiasm for fireworks to this country. Firing of black powder was used to celebrate holidays. This fascination with the noise and color of fireworks continues today.

Fireworks were associated with Independence Day celebrations a year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

By the American Revolution, fireworks had long played a part in celebrating important events. It was natural that not only John Adams, but also many of his countrymen should think of fireworks when independence was declared. The very first celebrations of Independence Day were in 1777, six years before Americans knew whether the new nation would survive the war. Fireworks were a part of these festivities. In 1789, George Washington's inauguration was also accompanied by a fireworks display.

Fireworks have been with Americans since the nation's very beginnings. Let's continue to celebrate safely on this and every Independence Day.