As we get ready to celebrate America’s birthday, let’s run down this 4th of July safety and awareness checklist I’ve created to help us all enjoy an incident-free, star-spangled weekend!

Be Mindful of Our Veterans— As my friend and Army veteran, Rennie, reminded me, it’s a sad irony that so many combat veterans struggle on Independence Day. Loud blasts that sound like gunfire and explosives can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. Per the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, an estimated 11% to 20% of military members who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD in a given year. If you have neighbors who are veterans, please be courteous if you’re planning to set off fireworks…


Keep it Legal—Know that states, counties, and municipalities determine firework laws so check in your area before lighting them off. Also find out what types of devices are considered “consumer fireworks” as these will vary from place to place as well.

July 4th_firecrackers

Safety First—Nothing will take the fun out of fireworks like a trip to the emergency room. The safest place to watch fireworks is at a show put on by pros, but if you’ll be lighting up the “red glare” at home, follow these firework safety tips:

  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from kids and pets.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors in a cleared area.
  • A fire extinguisher is best, but if you don’t have one, keep a bucket and charged hose near by.
  • Follow all instructions on firework packaging—do not modify.
  • The person lighting the fireworks should wear eye protection.
  • Don’t set off more than one firework at a time.
  • Light fireworks pointed away from your face, then quickly step back.
  • Never point or toss fireworks toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Never try to pick-up or relight “a dud”… wait 20 minutes then douse it with water.
  • Douse all firework debris with water before discarding.
  • Vacate anywhere folks are lighting off fireworks inebriated or acting a fool.

Patriotic cat isolated on white

Protect Your Pets—Loud firework festivities are NO FUN for our furry friends, in fact, they send most into a total panic.

  • Keep your pets indoors surrounded by their creature comforts.
  • Do not leave them outside, even if they’re used to it—panicky pets will break loose of leashes and jump fences.
  • Do not take them with you to any outdoor events, nor leave them in the car, especially in the heat, ever!

Have a happy and safe 4th of July, everyone!!!

Norma sig

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Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.