ST. LOUIS - It's that time of year for picnics and fireworks, but it's also that time of year of serious injuries.
Authorities say fireworks can be dangerous and residents should leave them to the professionals.
In 2016, at least four people died and about 11,100 were injured badly enough to require medical attention from fireworks.
Firefighters say parents don't realize fireworks burn at about 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals.
First responders say you should wear shoes because kids running in the grass and a hot ember falls onto the grass can burn the bottom of feet.
Have a water drop bucket to dispose of expired sparklers to prevent fires or burns to curious kids. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, so watch baggy clothing on children.
Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.
Don't buy fireworks packaged in brown paper. These are usually meant to be handled by trained professionals.
Never re-light a "dud" firework. Wait at least 20 minutes before handling it, then soak it in a bucket of water. Keep buckets of water or a hose nearby at all times.
Avoid alcohol while handling fireworks. It's just an accident waiting to happen, so save the booze for afterward.
Fully read the caution labels and instructions for every firework you buy. It should go without saying, but here's a friendly reminder.
Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks. Bottle rockets are notorious for shooting into people's eyes, so keep them covered whenever possible.
Light fireworks in an open, clear area away from cars and buildings. Try to minimize contact with things that could catch fire.
Keep pets inside. You may want your pup to join in on the fun, but most animals become extremely frightened by the loud noises and burning smells of fireworks and are likely to run away if they're not kept safely inside.
Stay far away from M-class fireworks, like M-80s or M-100s. These illegal explosives are extremely unpredictable and dangerous, and you should report them to the fire or police department or call the toll-free hotline 1-888-283-2662 if you see them.
When you're done, douse all firework devices with water. You don't want a trash fire on your hands.
If you experience a large burn or any injury to the eyes from fireworks, seek medical attention immediately. Don't apply ointment, take pain meds, or attempt to remove any objects from the eye before going to the hospital, and try not to rub or rinse your eyes either.