FORT LEE, Va. (June 28, 2012) -- Fireworks that light up the July night sky are favorites for many Americans. Fort Lee and several other communities in the area have great fireworks shows that are put on by professionals and designed with safety in mind. (See Off Duty in the Community on page 8 for details.)

Remember, Fort Lee does not allow fireworks of any kind, including sparklers, to be used anywhere on the installation, except by the professionals in charge of pyrotechnics for the Fourth at the Fort. This safety precaution may be enforced in off-post communities as well. Some people, however, still feel the need to put on their own show despite the dangers and restrictions.

Depending on where you live and whether you decide to set off fireworks, you need make sure they are legal to use. Off-post localities have varying rules regarding fireworks, so check first with local fire departments and get any required permit.

Under Virginia law, only these fireworks are permitted: sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents, caps for pistols, or pinwheels commonly known as whirligigs or spinning jennies.

If you can legally set off fireworks, follow these basic safety tips to prevent personal injuries or accidental fires:

• Keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy.

• Make sure the area where the fireworks will be set off is free of brush, high grass or any other combustibles.

• Don’t wear loose-fitting clothes.

• Don’t light fireworks near any dry grass.

• Use only fireworks that are legal in your area.

• Wear safety goggles while lighting fireworks.

• Don’t light fireworks indoors or under any cover.

• Allow all residues from the fireworks to cool completely before discarding.

• Don’t throw fireworks at people.

• Light only one fireworks device at a time.

• Once you light the fireworks, move several feet away from it and remain there.

• Don’t carry fireworks in your pocket.

• Keep “spectators” at a safe distance, especially small children.

• When a fireworks device fails to go off, don’t stand above it to see what’s wrong. Douse it with water and dispose of it. Don’t try to relight it.

• Consider your pets when planning to shoot off fireworks. If you have a pet that may chase a fast moving target or a pet that will be frightened, put them in the house to keep them safe until the display is over.

• Don’t assume you know how to use the fireworks. It is very important that you read the directions and warning labels. If there are no directions or warning labels, don’t use them.

• Don’t shoot fireworks off in a glass or metal container.

Most firework-related injuries involve the hands and fingers. Other injuries involve eyes, and about 50 percent of the injuries are burns. As devastating as these injuries are, remember fireworks can be life-threatening if not handled properly, and they are a fire hazard. Fireworks that are set off near brush and homes can cause fires if not put out completely. If you decide to light your own fireworks, remember the previous safety tips.

The Fort Lee Fire and Emergency Services personnel want all community residents to enjoy the summer and to celebrate the nation’s birthday – and do it safely. Don’t let injuries or property damage from the improper use of fireworks to put a damper on your summer.

The best way to enjoy fireworks is to come to Fort Lee for the Fourth at the Fort put on by Family and MWR. Enjoy the celebration from 2-10 p.m. at Williams Stadium with food, music, inflatable’s, rides and, of course, the fireworks spectacular at approximately 9:30 p.m. Simply put, let the professionals do all the work so you enjoy the fun.

Fort Lee Fire and Emergency Services actively promotes fire safety to all who work, live and visit Fort Lee. For assistance, call the Fire Prevention Office at (804) 734-6597.