Fourth of July fireworks are a long-standing tradition. Watching a professional display is the best way to keep loved ones safe, but some choose personal-use fireworks. The Illinois Insurance Association and its member companies urge residents to be aware of the risk, consider the consequences and use caution.

Fireworks are dangerous explosives. Wayward sparks or misfires can set fire to buildings, vehicles, anything combustible. Hundreds of individuals seek medical attention each year due to fireworks-related burns, eye and limb injuries, even death. Children hurt by sparklers account for more than one quarter of fireworks-related emergency room visits according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Keep the following tips in mind if you use fireworks this holiday:

• Follow local, state, and federal fireworks laws.

• Personal-use fireworks should be properly packaged, include directions, and come from a licensed seller.

• Only adults should handle fireworks.

• Light fireworks outside in a clear, flat, open area away from buildings.

• Wear safety glasses and shoot fireworks one at a time.

• Put a fire extinguisher and a full water bucket or garden hose near the light-off area.

• Never reignite a dud. Soak it with water and throw away.

• Extinguish spent fireworks with water and place in a metal trash can when cooled.

Enjoy the holiday but take precautions to keep people and property safe.

Kevin J. Martin

Executive director, Illinois Insurance Association

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