If you use legal fireworks, follow the directions.

Just because New York and Ontario County legalized the sale and use of “sparkling devices” and small novelty fireworks in 2014, it doesn’t mean they’re safe to use. They’re not.

That is why, at the Canandaigua Emergency Squad, we agree with fire-safety officials and The National Fire Protection Association when they say: Be safe. If you want to see fireworks, go to a public show put on by experts.

That said, if you still choose to take fireworks into your own hands, please follow these safety precautions.

Start by only buying from retailers registered in New York and know what is legal: Sparkling devices, which are hand-held or mounted on the ground and include sparking fountains and sparklers on wooden sticks, and small novelty fireworks like devices that make smoke, “snakes” and confetti-filled party poppers and paper snappers.

Even if you find other types of fireworks for sale, it doesn’t mean they’re legal, so be aware of what is not legal in New York and Ontario County. For example, fireworks that soar into the air like firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles and spinners are illegal.

If you’re over 18 and have purchased legal fireworks, it is legal for you to use them, but you must be diligent about reading the directions for each device you are using — do it before it gets dark out — and follow the directions to the letter.

Only light one device at a time. Only use them outdoors. Do not let children handle them. Always wear eye protection like safety goggles. Store fireworks in a secure, dry place out of reach of children. Do not use fireworks when using drugs or alcohol. Do not aim fireworks at people, animals or anything flammable and keep a hose or a few buckets of water and a fire extinguisher on hand — and know how to use it.

Additionally, do not try to relight a “dud” and be sure to drench both used and “dud” devices with water. Each year, Canandaigua Emergency Squad sees burns to the hands and arms from fireworks. In some cases, we have seen partial to full amputation of the fingers and hands because of these explosive devices.

Stay at least 500 feet away from where the professionals are setting off the fireworks and don’t stick around if the people setting off the fireworks are not trained professionals.

If you have pets, don’t bring them to the fireworks display. If you can hear the fireworks from home, bring your animals inside and put them in an interior room of the house.

For more information, visit websites for the National Council on Fireworks Safety (fireworkssafety.org), the National Fire Protection Association (nfpa.org), and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control (dhses.ny.gov/ofpc).

Have a safe and happy Independence Day celebration from your friends at Canandaigua Emergency Squad!

About this series

Matt Sproul is chief of Canandaigua Emergency Squad, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit unit that receives no tax-based support, responds to more than 5,000 calls per year in Ontario County and partners with the East Bloomfield Volunteer Ambulance. For more information, go to canandaiguaes.org. If you have questions or want to get involved, send emails to info@canandaigues.org.