While thinking about fireworks safety, I realized my suggestions spelled out a word you just might say if you don't follow them to the letter.

Many times over the years, I've chatted with Jake Johnson of the Bangor Fire Department about fireworks safety, so I'm pretty familiar with his suggestions. But don't give Jake any flack about KRAP. The pneumonic is completely my fault. So, here's what KRAP stands for:

K is for Know the law. Many fireworks are legal in Maine, but they may not be legal in your community. And there are probably restrictions about when you can set them off. Some towns have chosen to ban them altogether, while others have regulations, like not setting them off after 9:00, except on the 4th of July. You'll save yourself a visit from the police if you just familiarize yourself with the town's fireworks ordinance. (and follow it)

R is for Read the directions. Fireworks are often more complicated than just setting a lighter to a sparkler. Make sure you know how to use them safely and correctly and then follow the steps. And don't modify them. That never ends well.

A is for Avoid getting them near kids and pets. While most adults know enough to get out of the way of lit fireworks, kids and pets are not so aware. Teach your children early that fireworks should only be handled by the adults. Pets hate fireworks, so keep them inside the house, with a fan and a radio on, to prevent them from getting frightened by the noise.

P is for Practice Common Sense. All fireworks are dangerous, so respect them and use them correctly. Just because it's a little single-fuse firecracker doesn't mean it won't blow off your finger. If you get a dud that doesn't go off, don't lean your face over it or pick it up. Keep the fireworks away from the house and other buildings. And never try to launch them off of flammable materials.

All in all, it's pretty basic stuff. Perhaps the best suggestion isn't in the pneumonic, and that's to avoid combining alcohol and fireworks. Don't drink and light fuses. Be safe, have fun, and save a sparkler for me.

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