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Dos and don'ts of fireworks

As the mercury rises, the parties and festivities that have come to signify summer excite revelers far and wide. Summer has become the season of pool parties, trips to the beach, barbecues, and, of course, fireworks.

Love it or hate it, warm weather seems to beckon neighbors out of hibernation and incites a desire to set things on fire. When cooking over an open flame doesn't satisfy that desire, many take to shooting off bottle rockers and whistlers. But fireworks can still be dangerous, and not everyone is equipped or legally allowed to ignite fireworks. Therefore, to avoid potentially dangerous injuries, fines or arrests, it pays to follow these fireworks dos and don'ts.

DO find out if fireworks are legal in your area. If you have to travel over state lines or into another country to purchase fireworks, there is a good chance you are not allowed to use fireworks in your community. There are many regulations regarding the sale, transport and use of fireworks, so be sure you're not breaking any laws before buying any fireworks.

DON'T buy fireworks from just anyone. You want to ensure you are purchasing them from a reputable retailer of legal fireworks.

DO check any safety guidelines and warnings on the wrapper of the fireworks before lighting them.

DON'T light fireworks near people, trees, homes, or any combustible materials.

DO keep a fire extinguisher or water hose nearby in the event of a fire. The National Fire Prevention Association notes that the Fourth of July features more reported fires than any other day of the year.

DON'T forget that sparklers and firecrackers are no safer than other types of fireworks. The tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1200 F, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns and is hotter than the temperature it takes to melt glass.

DO leave fireworks to the professionals to avoid injury or fire.

DON'T light more than one firework at a time. 

DO wait 15 to 20 minutes after lighting a firework to see if it has ignited. If not, dump the firework in a bucket of water and move on to a fresh firework.

DON'T let small children handle and light fireworks.

DO make every attempt not to store fireworks. If you purchase them, use them all up. However, a cool, out-of-the-way place may suffice for a day or so.

DON'T have any part of your body over the firework when lighting it. Try to use a lit stick or butane lighter to keep as far away as possible.

DO say no to alcoholic beverages when lighting fireworks. Your perception and dexterity can be compromised by alcohol.

DON'T shoot fireworks off in windy conditions. Otherwise, make sure the prevailing wind is blowing away from the audience.

DO wear eye protection when lighting fireworks.

DON'T shoot fireworks off of uneven ground. To ensure stability, always light them on a hard, flat and level surface.

DO use common sense at all times when in the presence of fireworks.

DON'T assume pets and children will enjoy the loud noises. Make accommodations for a quiet respite.

DO make sure spectators keep their distance. They should be 25 to 40 feet away from ground-based items and even further for aerial products.

Fireworks can be beautiful to watch and often signify special moments and celebrations. Safety should always be on the minds of people spending time around fireworks.

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