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It’s that time of the year again: long weekends, barbeques, and—you guessed it—fireworks! And while we all enjoy a little Fourth of July fun, it’s important to be careful, too. As pointed out by fellow attorney David Lowe , fireworks can pose a danger both for those who personally light them, as well as those sitting back to enjoy their bursts of color. That’s not to say you should avoid the tradition entirely, just that you need to be smart while in the proximity of such festivities.

First off, it doesn’t hurt to remind everyone that most fireworks are illegal in Illinois . And while it may be tempting to obtain these stunners illegally or from neighboring states, it’s just not worth it. It’s not worth the risk of getting caught, and it’s not worth the risk of personal injury. Just as a refresher, some items are permitted: sparklers, snake/glow worm pellets, smoke devices, trick noisemakers, and plastic or paper caps. These fun effects can be purchased at retail stores like Target , but even they should be used with caution .

These items, on the other hand, are strictly prohibited: firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, and bombs. Why? For starters, do you want little Tommy playing with something called a torpedo? I didn’t think so. The fact of the matter is that you shouldn’t be playing with torpedoes either. Every year, you hear story after story about unfortunate accidents that started out as “innocent” fun. You don’t want to be that story this year. So, as a preemptive attempt to reduce such accidents, I’m sharing 10 safety tips recently promulgated by the Chicago Tribune :

1) Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.

2) Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.

3) Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.

4) Keep a bucket of water in case of a malfunction or fire.

5) If a sparkler fails to light, douse it with water. Do not put inside a car, building or structure until it has been soaked for a while.

6) Only use fireworks outdoors.

7) Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.

8) Purchase fireworks only from legitimate stores and roadside stands. Their products will be tested for safety. If you want to find a reliable place to buy using a zip code, click here .

9) Always wear safety glasses.

10) Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix!

This Fourth of July, don’t forgo the fun, just step up the safety. That way, you can really relax on your long weekend.

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