Make sure safety comes first on this Fourth of July

Today is Independence Day, and with this celebratory holiday come the usual parades and fireworks.

Although Fourth of July is meant to be enjoyed, like any holiday, some caution is warranted.

And since fireworks are involved with this holiday, that means special caution.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety has recommended safety tips for responsibly using fireworks.

Of course, all local laws should be obeyed regarding the use of fireworks. If they are used, people should read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting them. If kids are lighting fireworks, adults should supervise them.

Fireworks should be lit one firework at a time in a clear area away from buildings and vehicles. People also should resist the urge to relight a “dud” firework, instead waiting 20 minutes and then soaking the item in a bucket of water.

Speaking of water, it helps to have a bucket of water or charged water hose nearby, with spent fireworks wet down and placed in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.

Adults have to remember too that fireworks and alcohol don’t mix. Drinking can wait until the show’s over.

Another combination that’s a bad idea involves pets and fireworks. Pets can frighten easily at the loud sounds, so it’s best to leave the animals at home when going to a fireworks show. If fireworks are lit at home, pets should be put in an interior room to lessen their exposure to sounds.

Not everyone, though, is into the fireworks thing. If a quiet Fourth is more to your liking, Craig Lake State Park in Baraga County is hosting a fireworks-free Fourth, which actually runs until Friday.

Even something as supposedly harmless as a parade should be enjoyed with safety in mind. Participants in the Marquette Fourth of July Parade, for example, have been asked to not throw candy and other items from their units. They can, however, be handed out by walking alongside the units.

No Jolly Rancher is worth risking bodily injury.

Most people have to drive to see a local fireworks show or parade, so simple vehicular or bicycle safety has to be kept in mind during the heavy traffic. Also, be patient going to events, which means leaving early enough to get a good viewing spot. On the way home, also exercise patience, especially after a nighttime fireworks show.

We want everyone, after all, to enjoy July 5.