Fireworks are already going off around the state, but it's never too late to offer some reminders about how to be safe while using them.

I've chatted often with the Bangor Fire Department's Jake Johnson about fireworks safety, and the suggestions are really common sense. Still, reminders are always good. So here are a few items he and I discussed.

  • Photo, David McNew, Getty Images
    Photo, David McNew, Getty Images

    Know the Law

    Since Maine voted to make personal fireworks legal, some people think that means they can set them off anywhere, anytime. Not true.

    Each community has its own set of rules and regulations for fireworks. Some towns only allow them in certain areas. And most have a cut-off time at night when you have to stop.

    If you don't know the laws, contact your local police department. They'll be happy to review the law with you!

  • Photo, Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
    Photo, Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

    Read the Directions

    There are a lot of new fireworks on the market and you want to make sure you know how to operate them. Sometimes, it's not just a matter of putting fire to fuse and using them incorrectly could cause big problems.

    Remember that old adage from grade school. Never assume because when you assume you know the rest!

  • Photo, Topical Press Agency, Getty Images
    Photo, Topical Press Agency, Getty Images

    Keep Away from Kids and Pets

    Children should never be near fireworks when you're setting them off. I mean, let's face it, kids are unpredictable. They could run in front of a rocket just as it takes off. And that could be disastrous.

    Same goes for pets. They don't know what you're doing or that it's dangerous. Plus, animals generally HATE fireworks. Keeping them inside, in a quiet room, is a much wiser decision. And, if you're going to a fireworks demonstration, leave the dogs at home.

  • Photo, Kirby/Topical Press Agency, Getty Images
    Photo, Kirby/Topical Press Agency, Getty Images

    All Fireworks Are Dangerous

    Don't make the mistake of assuming that certain fireworks are safer than others. They all have their dangers, especially to children. Kids don't always have the best judgement. So, just because it's just a little single-fuse firecracker doesn't mean it won't blow off a little finger.

    And sparklers are another issue. Every year, at the town fireworks, I see kids running around with sparklers and their parents are nowhere in sight. Sparklers get very hot and could burn the kids, or someone whose skin or clothing come in contact with them as the kids run around. Plus, it's a thin wire that they could stick in their eyes or the eyes of an innocent bystander.

  • Photo, Joern Haufe, Getty Images
    Photo, Joern Haufe, Getty Images

    Use Common Sense

    It seems obvious, but it just isn't. Fireworks turn grown men and women into mischievous little kids. And that makes some a little stupid.

    Don't modify your fireworks. It may be tempting to put them in a box (like in the picture), tie a bunch together, or stick a tin can on the end of one. You're just asking for trouble.

    And if you get a dud, leave it alone. Don't pick it up or try to fix it. It may not be dead but just delayed. And if it's in your hand or pointed at your face, it could be disastrous.

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    Avoid Dry Grass and Buildings

    Finally, keep your fireworks away from dry grass and anything flammable. That includes where you set them off AND where they might land. And don't point them toward buildings.

    Remember....fireworks begin with the word FIRE! If you do start a fire, call 911. Don't be proud or embarrassed. Better that the firefighters get ahead of the fire before it gets out of control.

    Follow the rules, stay safe, and HAVE FUN!!

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