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 July 3rd, 2013  
While you enjoy Independence Day, here are some tips from St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara about safe handling of fireworks
- Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. That's hot enough to melt gold.

- Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarter pounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.

- Never try to make your own fireworks.

- Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.

- Steer clear of others. Fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.

- Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket because the friction could set them off.

- Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.

- Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.

- Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.

- Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.

- Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

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