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Be safe this holiday

No one does Fourth of July as well as Polk County. With celebrations kicking off in Falls City and Independence on Saturday, it’s a four-day affair as the community dons its best red, white, and blue, and gathers for carnivals, parades, barbecues and fireworks.

The heat is not forecast to be as high as it was last weekend, but if you’re thinking about going for a swim in one of our rivers, take care. Polk County Fire District No. 1 responded to two water rescues in the Willamette River last week — one of them turned out to be fatal.

The river is colder than you might expect. Even if it looks calm on the surface, it’s what’s underneath that could create a dangerous situation, and quickly.

Life jackets are provided at Riverview Park and at the Independence Boat Landing for people who want to venture into the water, but they don’t do any good if they remain hanging on a hook. Wear them and watch your surroundings. Have a designated adult to supervise children at all times.

When on the river, avoid using alcohol. It’s illegal to drive under the influence, and that goes for boats and bicycles as well as cars.

If you choose to consume, designate a driver or have a taxi’s number on hand. Nothing is worth risking the lives of others, your family and friends or yourself.

With the Fourth comes fireworks. Three opportunities present themselves for professional displays — Monday at Riverview Park, and Tuesday at both Riverview Park and in Dallas at Roger Jordan Park.

Of course, you can also purchase your own fireworks for a private showing, but consider your neighbors, pets and, most of all, safety.

We’ve seen a legal burn pile get out of control and threaten to destroy a home this year. The same thing can happen with fireworks. Follow the instructions on the package and have a hose and bucket of water handy.

We hope everyone gets out and enjoys each other and our nation’s birthday. Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and use common sense to stay safe and help others enjoy the weekend, too.

Because the Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday this year — our usual day to print the paper — we will not have many photos of this year’s festivities in next week’s paper. Check online on July 5 for photo albums, and the July 12 issue of the Itemizer for photos in print.

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