As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, citizens throughout the county who plan to use fireworks must act responsibility and with courtesy toward their neighbors and community members.

Responsible fireworks users know the rules applying to when and where fireworks can be let off, and they comply with those rules.

In the city of Choteau, fireworks can be set off as follows: July 1 and 2, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; July 3, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on July 4; July 4, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on July 5. Fireworks cannot be let off in city limits on any other dates or times this summer.

These relatively liberal fireworks use policies are designed to allow fireworks enthusiasts to celebrate our nation’s founding while causing the least amount of disruption to others who aren’t using fireworks. The time limits are set so that neighbors of those lighting off fireworks will lose as little sleep as possible. The time limits are also necessary so that people’s fireworks-averse pets — dogs and cats mostly — aren’t terrified 24 hours a day in the days around July 4th.

These limits also give U.S. military veterans whose are coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a respite from the sounds of fireworks that can trigger anxiety and distress. If you live in a neighborhood where you know veterans live, be polite and ask them whether fireworks will bother them.

Fireworks can’t be set off everywhere: Fireworks are prohibited on all state and federal lands, including on the national forest. Violators could be fined up to $330 for violating federal law or, much worse, could be left on the hook for the suppression costs of a fireworks-started forest or wildfire.

Furthermore, there are locations on private property where letting off fireworks is just a bad idea: near buildings, near brush piles, near flammable items, near stored firewood or fuel. And while youngsters love to set off their fireworks, parents or other responsible adults should be nearby to make sure that children are using fireworks safely.

Misused fireworks can maim, burn and blind people, and can start grass, vehicle and building fires.

Everyone who buys fireworks is entering into an unspoken contract with the rest of society, agreeing to use those fireworks responsibly, complying with time and date limits for setting them off; making sure children using them are properly supervised; and making sure that adults aren’t inebriated while firing off rockets. If people want to continue to enjoy the freedom to use fireworks in the city of Choteau, they need to demonstrate that they can do so responsibly and within the confines of the city ordinance.