Bottle rockets, firecrackers, and sparklers, oh my!

Dramatic fire explosions fill the sky, loud pops and cracks sound off, and the smell of sulfur fills the air – here comes the Fourth of July. Fireworks can be a fun way to celebrate, but they also can cause injuries and fires. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), fireworks caused approximately 18,000 fires and 8,800 visits to the emergency room in 2009.

Celebrate and have a good time, but take precaution to prevent accidents:

• Always supervise children around fireworks. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that children and adults under the age of 20 account for more than half of firework-related injuries every year.

• Never light fireworks near a home, dry brush, grass, or other flammable materials.

• Keep a bucket of water or hose close to fireworks for emergencies.

• Soak fireworks in water before disposing to prevent trash fires.

• Do not attempt to relight "duds" or fireworks that haven't gone off.

• Maintain a safe distance from all bystanders and other fireworks before lighting fireworks.

• Store fireworks according to the instructions on the packaging.

• Never lean over a firework when lighting, and do not hold any lit fireworks unless they are made to be held.

• Do not try to make your own fireworks.

• Observe local laws for firework use.