Shopping for 4th of July fireworks (copy)

Aiken residents shop for fireworks during a previous Independence Day. Be courteous and safe when using fireworks this Fourth of July.

Here's to wishing everyone a Happy Fourth of July today.

As we enjoy our hamburgers, hot dogs and whatever else comes off the grill, it's important to remember to be safe and it starts with fireworks. 

Aiken hosted its fireworks extravaganza two weeks ago during Fire Over Aiken, and the city will be without a show tonight unless you travel to SRP Park or Augusta. 

Within the city limits however, most fireworks are prohibited.

But there are those in Aiken County who will set off fireworks in their backyard, driveway or street and that can be dangerous. Fireworks shot in the air can bounce off a tree, set the tree on fire or worse, bounce back hit your house or a neighbor's house and catch it on fire. We haven't had much rain lately so the chance of something in the yard burning is higher.

The National Fire Protection Association estimates 1,300 structures are burned each year due to fireworks and 300 vehicles per year suffer damage; around 18,500 fires per year are started because of fireworks.

Fireworks can also cause a personal injury to you or a family member. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are 9,300 serious fireworks injuries per year with 53% of those being severe burns. Another telling fact is 400 of those injuries will cause someone to lose sight in one or both eyes.

There's nothing wrong with having fun and watching the colors light up the sky; it's an annual tradition in America. But there's a right way and wrong way, and the wrong way can result in tragedy. Be on the safe side and be extra cautious.

To those enjoying fireworks tonight, be courteous to your neighbors and do it as nightfall hits. Celebrating into the early morning hours as many of your neighbors have to get up for work the next day is rude. 

And for those who have pets, tonight is one of the worst nights of the year. Make sure your pet is safe and indoors, arguably owners should not go outside to shoot off fireworks or watch neighbors. They need you with their pets.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says more dogs run away during the month of July than any other time. 

This is the greatest day in American history, enjoy it and be safe.