Ask the Readers: What Are Your Fourth of July Safety Tips?

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For many families in the United States, Fourth of July (aka Independence Day) is a day of parades, barbecues, and fireworks. This holiday can be a lot of fun, but it can also turn dangerous if you don't follow some safety precautions.

What are your Fourth of July safety tips? Have you had any close calls during past celebrations? How do you plan on staying safe and responsible this year?

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Tina in NJ

Here in New Jersey, personal fireworks are illegal, although lots of people get them from Pennsylvania. I'll just leave the explosives to the professionals, thanks anyway.

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Don't drink and drive!

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Mary Happymommy

I don't buy fireworks at all even though my kids have asked for them. It's just not worth the risk.

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Ernest S.

Avoid fireworks ... at least the ones sold directly to people. After some pretty close calls over the years, I only let the professionals handle the fireworks. Plus, they are generally able to do a much better job!

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We don't do fireworks on July 4th for safety reasons

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Don't use illegal fireworks. Keep pets indoors.

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Don't drink and light the fireworks!

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1. Water. Lots of water. Both to drink, and to douse hot fireworks like sparklers and to stop any unexpected fires that may pop up.

2. Firefighter. Everyone knows at least one friend who's a firefighter, we invite him to our 4th party every year and his knowlege, I feel, has kept us from burning down the house.

3. Keep the kids away. Sparklers are one thing, but anything that goes boom or bang is to be kept far away. It's dangerous enough for adults, let alone kids who have no idea what's about to happen. We use red solo cups as little "guards" for sparklers to keep the sparks from possibly burning their hands and arms. plus it looks like a glowing sword.

4. Intelligence. Fireworks are explosives, plain and simple. Don't be stupid, don't play with fireworks -they're meant for entertainment yes, not to be used to test your courage. Famous last words associated with fireworks: "hey guys, watch this!"

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Happy Love

Don't drink and drive.

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Don't drink until after you're done building and using the adult-size Slip n Slide.

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stacey b

We always keep a hose handy when we're doing fireworks.

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nicole dz

When playing with sparklers they must always have sneakers on not sandals.

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We leave the fireworks to the professionals. If only our neighbors felt the same!

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Janet W.

I don't buy fireworks because I have young grandsons to think about. Safety first!

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Stay the heck away from the fireworks! ;)

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Tabathia B

We always do it in the open like in the parking area or on the sidewalk and keep the kids clear. We mainly do sparkles for the older kids and small firecrackers.

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prathee chandar

Don't buy fireworks and instead go and WATCH fireworks.

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That drinking and guns or fire don't mix LOL!!

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My family only sets of ground based fireworks (showers of sparks) instead of fireworks that go up in the air due to the area we live in.

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Anna Pry

closely supervise kids (and men who act like kids) around fireworks

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J. Pario

A favorable ratio of kids to adults.

Grouping all the kids together and explaining that blown-off fingers can't always be re-attached.

Having buckets of water and hoses handy. Last year my parents caught one of their windbreak trees on fire.

Mowing and then soaking the grass.

Shooting fireworks off on a large plywood board or a sidewalk, not right in the grass.

Remembering that lighting fireworks is a lot like setting money on fire....

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I would just stay inside! :)

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Margaret Davis

Be food safety conscious!! Pasta salad, potato salad, mayo for burgers, etc. - all these are highly perishable. They should be brought to the table from the fridge at the last minute. After everyone has said "no more" they should be returned to the fridge or pre-chilled coolers. No one wants to spend the evening sick!

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I'm not real big on fireworks anyway, and I always make sure to keep my dogs inside while they're going on so they don't get spooked. Other than that, just being careful around the grill too, I guess.

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Keep the pets inside to keep them from being spooked!

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Knock on wood, I haven't had any Fourth of July close calls. I typically stay pretty close to home on this holiday, since a lot of people travel. I pretty much just enjoy the day and hang out with friends. It seems to have kept me out of trouble so far.

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Laura J

We love fireworks, but always watch them from afar! Lots of people light them off around us, and we always make sure to water our grass that night before dark....just in case someones comes into our hopefully will not start a grass fire.

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If you plan to set off fireworks, don't blow yourself up.

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Susan Smith

Fireworks are illegal in our city so we just watch the professional fireworks show and not do out own.

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Keep a first aid kit handy in case of emergency especially when dealing with fireworks.

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Keep an eye out for drunk drivers and call to report swerving.

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When driving, don't be distracted by fireworks displays. Keep your eyes on the road.

Don't drink and drive. Watch out for impaired drivers.

If you have pets, make sure they are kept secure. You may want to move your animals inside for the night so they don't get frightened from the noise and try to escape.

Follow laws and safety instructions for handling all fireworks. Avoid use where illegal and avoid use of illegal fireworks.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

Don't leave the house for fireworks!

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Please don't drink and drive. It's a bad weekend to be traveling period.

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Tammy S

We always make sure to have a hose and a bucket of water near by. That way we can put used sparklers and other hand held fireworks in the bucket. We keep the hose close in case some of the fireworks catch on fire or if something fly's off of one on to the grass or bark chips.

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Florida mom

We host a pot luck dinner for everyone. After eating, we build a bonfire. Once it gets going, we all pull our chairs around the fire in a circle, cool lemonade in hand as the fun is about to begin! As I tell a story of our families adventures over the last year, (some of it stretched a bit) My oldest son throws "magic dust" onto the fire to make the flames different colors during action points in the tale. This is such a big hit! We buy the chemicals, like salt etc.. from the store cheap (look up campfire flames online) After story time, we pile up in cars & trucks to go see the city's firework display.

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Our family secret - relax, grab an inner tube and go swimming. We leave fireworks to the professionals - and that's not us!

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Have a serious safety talk with the youngsters around personal firework safety - I won't deny that I myself have been a part of a Roman Candle fight and loved it, but my brother seriously burned his foot when he fumbled lighting a firework. I think it's all about having a good, clear safety talk ahead of time

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Toni B

Poke a hole in a plastic cup for the kids using sparklers so little hands don't get burned. Have a designated container for used sparklers so nobody steps on them.

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Amanda Sakovitz

dont drink and drive!

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Thomas Murphy

don't drink and drive.