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Published July 01. 2011 05:02PM

Fourth of July fireworks are as American as baseball and apple pie, but unsafe practices can put a damper on your celebration. In 2009, an estimated 18,000 reported fires were ignited by fireworks causing $38 million in direct property damage and U.S. emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,800 people for firework injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

"We want people to enjoy the festivities surrounding the holiday," said Chris Conner, a spokesperson for Allstate Insurance. "It is, however, important to remember that fireworks are dangerous and that you should follow local and state laws and ordinances regarding their use. Be responsible and take the time to plan out your firework celebration."

Enjoy the fireworks without extinguishing the fun by following Allstate's ten safety tips, based on information from the National Fire Protection Association:

• Use hard, flat surface. It is highly recommended to use a hard, flat surface like a driveway and away from dry leaves and other flammable materials, and well away from home and automobiles. Lighting fireworks on grass or in containers can increase the risk of fire.

• Dispose of fireworks safely. Soak them in water and dispose of them in a clean trashcan without yard debris or other flammable contents. Have a fire extinguisher readily available.

• Check the wind direction. Set up your firework display so the wind is blowing away from spectators, buildings and trees.

• Obey state laws and avoid illegal products. If fireworks are illegal in your state or county, enjoy a celebration hosted by the city. Realize the difference between legal and illegal fireworks.

• Read the instructions. Each firework device has different cautions, warnings and instructions. Make sure you read each package.

• Don't relight a dud. If a firework fails to ignite, spray it down or put it in a bucket of water and move on.

• Keep back. Spectators should be a safe distance away from the fireworks and ensure all children are supervised.

• Sparkle safely. Sparklers may seem like harmless fun, however they burn at a temperature of more than 1,200°F which is enough to cause third-degree burns.

• Age appropriate. Only adults should handle and light the fireworks. The risk of firework injury is more than twice as high for children ages 10-14 as for the general population.

• Protect your pets. Pets have sensitive hearing and the noise can not only scare them, but hurt animals as well.

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