Erica Martin, M.D.

The Fourth of July can be a lot of fun, but before your family celebrates, it is important that everyone knows about fireworks safety.

Fireworks can cause bodily harm to children and adults if not handled properly. The best way to protect your family is to attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.

If lighting fireworks at home, please keep these safety tips in mind:

Children should never play with fireworks without adult supervision. Things like firecrackers, rockets and sparklers are dangerous. If you give your children sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from their face, clothing and hair.

Fireworks should be stored in a cool, dry place.

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

Maintain a safe distance. Fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone.

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 — the friction could set them off.

Be aware of your surroundings. Point fireworks away from homes, and keep them away from brush, leaves and other flammable substances.

Light one firework at a time and never try relighting a dud or an already used firework.

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

Dispose of fireworks safely. 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.

If injury occurs, seek medical attention immediately. If an injury is eye-related, don't touch or rub the wound, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don't flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. If it's a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold, water over the burn (do not use ice). Call your doctor right away.

Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you'll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe. Take extra precautions this Fourth of July and your holiday will be a blast!