The Fourth of July is just around the corner. Time to celebrate the nation’s Independence Day with hot dogs, beer, American flag cake, and of course–fireworks. Many families will watch a professional fireworks display–either in person or on TV. Leaving pyrotechnics shows to the professionals is by far the safest way to experience such an event.

Nonetheless, people often prefer to set off fireworks themselves. Without taking the right safety measures, such an activity can quickly lead to a holiday disaster. In today’s article, we discuss some basic guidelines to making your at-home Fourth of July fireworks show a success:

Using fireworks

After you familiarize yourself with all relevant federal and local regulations for fireworks use, follow these safety tips:

  • Before you begin the show, have a couple buckets of water at the ready, in case of emergency. It’s also wise to have a fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand.
  • Wear protective eye gear whenever lighting fireworks.
  • Always follow the instructions for use on the fireworks package.
  • Never let children set off fireworks, and make sure they maintain a safe distance from any fireworks.
  • Only light one firework at a time.
  • Only try to light each firework once. If you encounter a dud, don’t attempt to re-light it.
  • Always aim the fireworks away from people, animals, cars, buildings or any flammable objects.
  • If you set off fireworks over water, remove any visible debris that falls into the water, as such litter can contaminate the water supply.
  • Never detonate fireworks under water, and doing so can kill aquatic wildlife.

Disposing of fireworks

Undetonated fireworks pose a safety hazard. At the end of a fireworks show, it’s important to collect all unused fireworks, duds or fireworks that didn’t go off completely and submerge them in a bucket of water overnight. (Do not submerge fireworks in a natural body of water.) Then double-wrap the fireworks in plastic–to ensure they don’t dry out–and place them in the trash.

Following the above recommendations can help you avoid unnecessary tragedy this Fourth of July.