Now that Christmas has come and gone, everyone is looking forward to the New Years Eve tradition of popping fireworks.

      Though this tradition is one practiced by many, it also comes with safety hazards such as fires. St. Amant Fire Chief James E. LeBlanc advises parents popping fireworks during the holiday to never let children handle them alone and to buy them from a reliable, licensed fireworks dealer.

     "We encourage everyone to follow all safety guidelines, which are put in place to protect our community from injuries,” LeBlanc said. “Fireworks are a big part of the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations for many of us, but they need to be used wisely and with proper supervision."
     According to the National Fire Protections Association (NFPA), fireworks cause an estimated 18,5000 fires each year in the U.S. and thousands of injuries. Sparklers alone account for more than one-quarter of emergency room injuries, which 36 percent of patients saw injuries in their hand or fingers, and 19 percent saw injuries in their eye and head.

       Here are some tips to consider when popping firework over the holiday weekend, courtesy of the St. Amant Fire Department.

-Only use fireworks outdoors and never aim, point or throw them at another person.

-Use a clear, open area and keep children and adults a safe distance from the shooting site.

-Never alter any fireworks or attempt to make your own fireworks. Light only one firework item at a time and do not attempt to relight or fix a "dud."

-As an extra precaution, have a fire extinguisher, water supply, hose or bucket of water nearby.

-Be cautious when lighting fireworks when it is windy and never smoke when handling fireworks.

      "Safety is one of the greatest concerns in our community," LeBlanc said. "Using proper precautions when handling fireworks will help ensure a safe holiday celebration, without serious accidents and injuries."