We love fireworks just as much as you do, and any excuse to enjoy them will suffice, from New Year’s Eve and sporting events to weddings and state fairs. Of course, no event inspires a greater profusion of pyrotechnics than the Fourth of July.

Sadly (but perhaps not surprisingly), that also means a greater profusion of accidents. Sixty percent of firework-related injuries occur in the weeks surrounding Independence Day. And a substantial number of those involve sparklers and bottle rockets, which many people falsely assume are safe for kids. In fact, lit sparklers can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees — way too hot for young children to handle.

But this doesn’t mean you have to give up all your combustible fun. With a few quick tips, you can add some dazzle to your holiday and still celebrate safely.

Facts about fireworks injuries

First, a reality check. The Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a study of fireworks injuries between June 22 and July 22, 2012. Here’s what they found:

  • Burns to the head, face, or hands accounted for over half of the injuries.
  • Around 20 percent of injuries involved children aged 9 or younger.
  • Most injuries were caused by malfunctions or misuse. Malfunctions included fireworks that failed to ignite properly or went off in unexpected directions. Misuse included holding fireworks while lighting them or setting them off too close to other people.
  • Firecrackers caused the most injuries (23 percent) followed by sparklers and bottle rockets (12 percent each).

The good news is that legally sold fireworks are designed to be safe if used as intended. Here’s some advice on how to handle them properly.

Fireworks safety tips

  • Before purchasing or using fireworks, check that they’re legal in your area.
  • Fireworks packaged in brown paper are usually intended for professional displays and are unsafe for consumer use.
  • Never let young children handle fireworks and always make sure a responsible adult is present to supervise older kids.
  • Light fireworks in a clear space far away from vehicles, buildings, and dry grass or brush (and never use them indoors).
  • Don’t stand directly over a firework when lighting the fuse. Light only one at a time and back away immediately once it’s lit.
  • Make sure to have a garden hose or bucket of water ready to douse any fires.
  • Soak spent fireworks thoroughly with water before discarding them in an outdoor trash can (ideally an empty metal can with a lid).
  • If a firework is a “dud” (fails to fully ignite), don’t pick it up or try to relight it. Wait 20 minutes and then soak and discard it as you would a used firework.

And because we’re all about safety here at Esurance, remember that the Fourth of July is one of the most common times for traffic accidents, so please don’t drink and drive. And whatever you do, always make sure you’re protected with the right insurance coverage.

Now go enjoy some barbecued hot dogs and a sky-lit spectacular! Happy Independence Day!

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about Ellen

Ellen has spent many years as a professional wordsmith, helping to shed light on such topics as world travel, cargo pants, and the porosity of bath tiles. As a freelance copywriter for Esurance, she brings her boundless curiosity to the world of insurance. Outside work, she can be found cheering on the San Francisco Giants, hiking in the Oakland hills, and (barely) resisting smuggling penguins home from Antarctica.