Independence Day is the most patriotic holiday on the American calendar. The day that 13 independent colonies united together and declared their independence from a tyrant is certainly cause for celebration, but with celebration come responsibility and safety.

July 4th festivities often include setting off or enjoying a fireworks show. These two activities can pose significant fire hazards if not done properly and safely. Eleven people died in 2015 using fireworks and an estimated 11,900 people were taken to the hospital with fireworks-related injuries.

In addition to injuries, fireworks are also responsible for fires. According to the NFPA, fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires in 2013, including 1,400 structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and 14,000 outside and other fires. More than one-quarter (28%) of fires started by fireworks in 2009-2013 were reported on Independence Day.

To keep yourself and your loved ones safe this July 4th holiday, please follow these important safety tips:

FIREWORKS SAFETY The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, they should follow these safety steps:

Be Prepared, before you light fireworks:

  • Use legal fireworks, available at licensed outlets.
  • Store fireworks out of children’s reach.
  • Keep pets safe indoors.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher and water handy.

Be Safe, when lighting fireworks:

  • Only adults should light fireworks.
  • Only use outdoors in clear, open areas free of overhead obstructions like trees or powerlines.
  • Launch fireworks only from flat surfaces.
  • Do not throw fireworks or hold in your hand.
  • Protect your eyes.
  • Light one firework at a time and move away quickly.
  • Never relight a “dud.”

Be Responsible after you finish:

  • Soak used fireworks in water.
  • Be considerate-clean up used fireworks.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.