Public safety officials encourage a safe Fourth of July

Fireworks erupt on the dark canvas of night during a 2013 celebration.

Stefanie Gamboa, News Contributor

To celebrate the Independence Day holiday Wednesday, the city of Corvallis will hold its Red White & Blue Riverfront Festival, complete with a fireworks display. With this festive mood also comes safety concerns relating to fireworks, alcohol consumption and heat injuries.

Jim Patton, the fire prevention officer in the Corvallis Fire Department, said both the police and fire departments will increase their patrols on the Fourth of July. In light of an ongoing burn ban in effect since June 15, Patton said students and community members must exercise caution while celebrating.

“The ban is for recreational fires, backyard burning and things like that, but unfortunately does not regulate fireworks,” Patton said. “By the nature of a burn ban, that should tell community members that there is an elevated concern of vegetation fires.”

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In addition to its own efforts, the city requests that all members of the community be good stewards of Oregon’s forests, said Oregon State University Emergency Manager Mike Bamberger.

“Every year some place in Oregon will catch on fire due to the use of fireworks in the forest area,” Bamberger said via email. “Don’t use fireworks in the forest lands and if you see others using fireworks, ask them to stop or report them to law enforcement.”

Corvallis encourages community members to be courteous and respectful of others when celebrating and using fireworks, according to Bamberger.

“Fireworks, unofficial and official, do create hazards that people need to be aware of,” Bamberger said in an email. “People need to be cautious with how and where they use their pyrotechnics. In the past, bystanders have been struck by debris, sparks and inundated with smoke.”

Patton explained that fireworks burn hotter than a regular flame and can cause burns in a matter of seconds.

“Using fireworks the way they are designed and intended, which is set down, light and walk away, is important. Do not hold them or throw them,” Patton said. 

In Oregon, fireworks can only be legally purchased from June 23 to July 7 every year. Patton explained those who purchase fireworks may light them any time during the year.

For a firework to be legal, it cannot shoot above 12 feet or travel farther than 6 feet in any direction. There are penalties imposed for modifying legal fireworks, as well as if any firework, legal or illegal, causes a fire, Patton said.

“You have to be 16 years old to purchase fireworks. You don’t have to be 16 to necessarily use them, but we encourage parents to be mindful of their teenage children and young children as well,” Patton said. “That’s where most firework mishaps happen, either with youth or with intoxicated adults.”

While many OSU students are eligible to drink alcohol legally, Corvallis Public Information Officer Patrick Rollens said students should monitor their alcohol intake while celebrating.

“That’s really an important message according to our Community Livability Team and the police department,” Rollens said. “Just know your limit.”

Along with the consumption of alcohol, Bamberger said that community members should be aware of other safety aspects not related to fireworks, including dehydration, heat injuries and traveling concerns.  

“I would suggest that everyone stay hydrated with water throughout the day and night. Use sunscreen or wear long sleeves and a hat to protect exposed skin from sunburn, and plan to take your time when traveling to and from events,” Bamberger said via email. “Be aware of people at night that will be participating in the firework display and be cautious as you walk and drive.”

The Red, White & Blue Riverfront Festival will take place July 3 and 4 at Riverfront Commemorative Park in downtown Corvallis. Beginning at 5 p.m. July 3, there will be live music, food vendors, crafts and children’s activities according to Visit Corvallis. The Corvallis Jaycees firework display will begin at dusk on July 4.

For more information about the festival, click here