The Fourth of July is a fun day of celebration for countless in Independence and throughout the United States. Many of our celebrations around this holiday have come to include fireworks. Even though fireworks can be a lot of fun, we must always remember to be safe with them.

In the United States during the days surrounding the Fourth of July, an average of 200 people go to the emergency room every day with firework related injuries. The risk of fireworks injury is two-and-a-half times as high for children ages 10–14. In addition to people injured, there are more fires reported on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year in the United States.

The National Safety Council advises that the best way to safely enjoy this Fourth of July is to watch a public fireworks display conducted by professionals.

If you are looking for something in Independence, make plans to be at the eighth annual Independence Day Celebration for an evening of music and fireworks. The fireworks display and patriotic music by the Spirit of Independence Band will be at the Mormon Visitors Center, 937 W. Walnut. Gates open at 8 p.m. and the fireworks display will begin around 9:30 p.m.

If you decide to ignite your own fireworks, remember that fireworks within the city limits of Independence are only allowed from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 3 and 5 and from 10 a.m. to midnight July 4. Independence City Code makes it illegal for any person to possess, store, handle, or use bottle rockets, aerial missiles, sparkler bombs or altered/combined fireworks within Independence.

City Code also makes it unlawful to use, explode, detonate or shoot fireworks from a motorized vehicle or throw any ignited firework into, at, or under a motorized vehicle or near any person or animal.

The following are some important safety tips to keep in mind when using fireworks:

• Never allow young children to handle fireworks. Even older children should use fireworks only under close adult supervision.

• Do not allow any running or horseplay while fireworks are being used.

• Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from onlookers, houses and flammable materials.

• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.

• Light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.

• Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby.

• After fireworks have burned completely, douse them with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding.

• Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and discard them safely.

• If fireworks injure anyone, get them to a doctor or hospital immediately. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow anyone to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.

For more information on the general use and safety of fireworks call 816-325-7123. All questions will be directed to a Fire Department representative. If you witness the unsafe use of fireworks contact the Fire Department immediately and report the threat and its location.

Information provided by the Independence Fire Department and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Larry Jones, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.