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If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burns and eye injuries in kids and adults.

The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.

Lighting fireworks at home isn't legal in many areas, so if you still want to use them, be sure to check with your local police department first. If they're legal where you live, keep these safety tips in mind:

  1. Kids should never play with fireworks alone. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800°F (982°C) — hot enough to melt gold.
  2. Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
  3. Steer clear of others — fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.
  4. Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
  5. Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.
  6. Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
  7. Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.
  8. Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

Just a few precautions can make the difference between a successful 4th of July or an expensive doctor bill and insurance claims.

Ruth Vonderohe

The UNL Learning Child Team

Ruth is a UNL Extension Educator in Northeast Nebraska with  a focus in early childhood, family and diversity. She holds a B.S. Degree in Family and Consumer Science Education and a M.A. in Vocational Special Education. Ruth and her husband Ron enjoy kayaking, gardening and getting to know their first new grand baby. Learn more about Ruth and the rest of The Learning Child Team at child.unl.edu. ...

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