The Fourth of July is a day to throw something on the grill, enjoy the outdoors and give thanks for our independence.
It's also a day that puts people and pets' safety at risk, what with fireworks exploding and the temptation to drink one too many before driving home.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently reported eight fireworks-related deaths in 2017 and 12,900 fireworks-related injuries. Most of these injuries and deaths occurred around the Fourth of July.
Keep yourself and your pets safe this year by following these Fourth of July safety tips.
If you set off fireworks...
• Unless you live in one of 12 Bay Area cities, it's illegal to set off even "safe and sane" fireworks like bottle rockets. Doing so puts you at risk of a large fine (up to $10,000 in Alameda County) and injury.
• CPSC reported sparklers are the number one cause of fireworks injuries, accounting for 14 percent of estimated injuries. They burn at temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit!
• If you live in Pacifica, San Bruno, Gilroy or another fireworks-legal city, remember to keep young children and pets away from fireworks.
• Aim fireworks at the sky, not at a person or your neighbor's house.
• Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby in case of fire.
• Use only State Fire Marshal-approved fireworks.
• If fireworks malfunction, don't try to relight them. Soak them in water and throw them away.
• In light of fire season, local fire departments recommend skipping the home fireworks and attending public fireworks displays. The National Fire Protection Association reported that each year, fireworks cause 1,300 structure fires and 17,000 other fires, on average.
If you travel...
• If you haven't left town already, do so very early. The best time to travel is before 6 a.m. The worst time is between noon and 3 p.m. Use Google's traffic tool to see traffic stats in San Francisco and other cities.
• If you plan to drive home after a fireworks display, be especially cautious. You'll likely share the road with more impaired drivers than usual. You may also come across DUI checkpoints.
• Relatedly, don't drink or drug and drive. If you imbibe, appoint a designated driver, use public transportation, hail a taxi or use Lyft.
If you have pets...
• Keep pets indoors and at home. They will be much happier there than at a city fireworks event.
• Create a peaceful environment in your home for dogs and cats. Play soothing music and block out loud noises.
• Do not feed your pet scraps from the grill. Foods such as onion, avocado, grapes, raisins and chocolate can be toxic to pets.
• Do not spray your pet with insect repellent or sunscreen made for humans.
• Even if your pet stays indoors, check doors and gates to make sure he or she can't escape.
• Follow these additional tips from Oakland Animal Services.
How are you spending your Fourth of July? Let us know in the comments below. Stay safe and have fun!