Enjoy Independence Day, but use good judgment

Next Wednesday is the Fourth of July and as always there will be no shortage of things to do: picnics, parades, concerts and, of course, fireworks.

Any conversation about Independence Day must begin with a reminder that fireworks aren’t just illegal, but dangerous. In Ventura County, fire department officials remind residents that anyone found in possession of fireworks or caught using them could be fined up to $1,000 and/or receive a jail term of up to one year.

Those who plan to host their own pyrotechnics display this year should keep in mind that the police will be sending out additional patrols on the night of the Fourth— with deputies specifically tasked to respond to calls for illegal fireworks. They’ll also be on the lookout for drunk drivers.

Given that Ventura County is still recovering from the largest wildfire in California history, the Thomas fire, public safety officials will be on high alert. Officials warn of low moisture levels in the brush that carpets the surrounding hillsides—even though regular fire season is still months away. With just a little wind, a small fire can turn into a massive blaze quickly.

“While we will never be able to eliminate accidents, the public needs to understand how easily fireworks can start a fire or cause severe burns. We want everyone to practice safety, use caution and have a great and safe holiday,” Capt. Steve Swindle of the Ventura County Fire Department said in a statement. Good advice.

It’s not uncommon for a wayward firework to land on a roof or a nearby tree. Those embers can spark a fire and lead to significant damage and serious criminal charges, turning the fun into a felony, not to mention a sizable civil suit.

While firefighters and paramedics will be on the lookout for fireworks-related blazes, they’ll also be offering aid to the inevitable burn victims. Burns to hands and fingers (33 percent) and to the face and eyes (37 percent) make up a majority of those injuries, the Maryland-based U.S. Consumer Safety Commission says.

By leaving the fireworks to the pros you’ll be sure that neither you nor your wallet gets burned this great American holiday.

Fireworks are an exciting climax to the day, but what also makes July 4 special are the myriad other events from sunrise to sundown.

Our local communities really go all out.

Calabasas is famous for its lakeside fun run, pet show and splash party at the Tennis and Swim Center. Westlake Village offers a full day of activities including a pancake breakfast and parade.

Speaking of parades, our favorite is the one at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills where residents are preparing for their 10th annual quaint little march. Funny decorations, cute rides—it all kicks off at 10 a.m. where Liberty Canyon Road meets Country Glen Road.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!