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The Fourth of July is almost here.

Although festivities may look different this year, many will still be celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence with picnics and barbecues. Something new for some might be fireworks.

Robert McCool, Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center’s (KIPRC) Fire Prevention and Safety Program coordinator, reminds individuals that safety is key to enjoying these spectacles.

McCool said these tips will keep celebrations happy:

• Never let kids use fireworks (including sparklers, which are dangerous if someone is poked with one).

• Always follow the directions for using any firework.

• Never hold fireworks (such as Roman candles) in one’s hand unless the directions say that it's OK to do so (very few do).

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy to extinguish any unexpected fires.

• If a firework fuse burns down but the firework doesn't detonate, leave

it alone for at least 10 minutes and then put it in water.

• Never point a firework at another person, animal, or property.

• Do not use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives.

• Have a designated adult shooter for fireworks, as alcohol and fireworks don’t mix.

• Obey all local laws.

McCool also emphasized the importance of launching aerial fireworks — rockets, mortars, etc. — as close to vertical as possible. This minimizes the horizontal distance fireworks travel, making it easier to see where any potentially hot remnants fall. It also ensures that the firework reaches its maximum altitude before it detonates.

“Fires are started each year by hot or burning firework remnants that fall onto flammable materials (e.g., dry leaves in gutters, dry grass, etc.),” McCool said. “Launching aerial fireworks at an angle increases their horizontal range while reducing their altitude at detonation, so it significantly increases the chance of hot or burning remnants reaching the ground — and making them too far away to see.”

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center is part of the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health and is a bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health.