Independence Day is perfect for outdoor family fun. It's also the one time of year when it’s seems to be okay to play with matches. Family fun and playing with matches may seem like an unlikely combo, but hey, so is America, right?

Even though they can be a lot of fun—breathtaking, even, when done right—fireworks are very dangerous and send thousands of people to hospitals with injuries every summer. So if you want to have both a fun and safe Fourth of July, please follow these fireworks-safety tips:

Always Supervise

Children and teens should never be allowed to set off fireworks unsupervised. Explosive and fiery devices can injure hands, faces and eyes. Even sparklers can hurt small children who don’t have the coordination to hold them properly. Fireworks do have “fire” in the name, after all. Kids shouldn’t be playing with them alone or igniting them on their own.

Keep Water Handy

When lighting fireworks of any kind, you should always have water nearby, either in a bucket or through a hose. Fireworks of all kinds can misfire, have a manufacturing defect or land where you don’t expect them to—including on you. The closer water is, the more likely you are to save yourself from serious injury and your property from significant damage.

Be in the Know

First of all, if you plan to set off fireworks, make sure it’s legal in your area. If it isn’t, or it’s restricted, one of the reasons could have to do with the danger of quickly-spreading fires. Second, know your fireworks and what they are capable of, so you know where and how to light them. You should also make sure you aren’t lighting fireworks meant for commercial displays, as they could pack more power than you’re prepared for. These kinds of fireworks are usually wrapped in brown packaging.

Mind Your Body

When lighting fireworks, paying attention to where you are is one important key to keeping yourself safe. Never have any part of your body over the device when lighting a firework. And, when you do light one, get it lit and set securely; then move away quickly. You never know when it could misfire. Finally, never point or throw fireworks at anyone else. Make sure you’re lighting them so they’ll move away from other people and property, and if you can’t do that, then it’s better to leave them unlit.

Use Common Sense

Finally, and this bears repeating, fireworks are dangerous. Whenever you do anything dangerous, using common sense is important for safety:

  • Always follow the laws of your city and state.
  • Always follow the directions on the fireworks.
  • Fireworks should only be lit outdoors.
  • Wear safe clothing that isn’t going to put you at risk of damaging your eyes or catching on fire.
  • Don’t light or burn fireworks in improper containers or carry them in your pockets.
  • Don’t relight fireworks that didn’t light or only partially burned.
  • If you find or see illegal fireworks in use, report it. If it’s anywhere near your house, you’re just as likely to suffer property damage as those who are using them.

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