Be safe when using fireworks this Independence Day

Fireworks season is upon us, and now is a good time to remember some safety tips.

First, don't forget about your pets, who can become skittish upon hearing the pops in the distance. As we learned from Dr. Loni Patke at the Cape Small Animal Clinic recently, Independence Day is the No. 1 time of the year that pets go missing. Now is a good time to make sure that your pets are wearing an ID tag or a collar with contact information. Having your pet microchipped is a good idea. Your pet may benefit from "calming clothing" or blankets or even vet-approved sedatives.

As for humans, eight people died and more than 12,000 were injured by fireworks in 2017, according to the National Safety Council. Additionally fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires every year.

Here are some tips, as described by the NSC, on its website, www.nsc.org, if you decide to use consumer fireworks:

* Never allow young children to handle fireworks

* Older children should use them only under close adult supervision

* Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol

* Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear

* Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands

* Never light them indoors

* Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material

* Never point or throw fireworks at another person

* Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting

* Never ignite devices in a container

* Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks

* Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding

* Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire

* Never use illegal fireworks

It's important to remember that even sparklers can be dangerous, burning at about 2,000 degrees.

Please have fun, but use caution this holiday. Happy Independence Day, everyone.