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Fourth of July: How to keep your Independence Day 'safe and sane'

File photo of Fourth of July fireworks.
File photo of Fourth of July fireworks.
brownpau via Flickr

Independence Day weekend is upon us, and to celebrate 240 years of 'Merica, a lot of Southern Californians enjoy either shooting off fireworks or watching a fireworks show. There's also a slew of  SoCal residents getting out of dodge for a three-day celebration of the original #Brexit — aka when the 13 colonies said "see ya" to King George.

Whether you're lighting fireworks at home, car-tripping to Yosemite or flying to Vegas, here's everything you need to know to stay safe while celebrating liberty.

Fireworks and safety | Communities allowing "safe and sane" fireworks | Fireworks shows | Pet safety | Travel

Fireworks

With thousands of acres of California forest burning in multiple wildfires in the past few weeks, authorities are urging responsible fireworks practices during July Fourth celebrations. 

“We ask the public to be diligent and not be careless approaching the Fourth of July weekend, and not using fireworks in areas that are illegal to do so,” Michael McCormick, L.A. County Fire captain, told KPCC amid the San Gabriel Complex Fire. 

"Safe and sane" fireworks are the only fireworks legal to use in California, and they are marked by a seal that looks like this: 

Look for this seal when buying fireworks to make sure they are legal under state law.
Look for this seal when buying fireworks to make sure they are legal under state law.
Cal Fire

Chances are, if you don't buy your fireworks at a fireworks stand, they're illegal. The largest stand around opened Tuesday at the Honda Center. To make sure the fireworks you purchase are legal under state law, visit  Cal Fire's full list of approved items for 2016.

Tips for properly lighting your safe and sane fireworks

File: A family lights fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July, 2000, in Santa Ana, where personal fireworks are legal.
File: A family lights fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July, 2000, in Santa Ana, where personal fireworks are legal.
David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty

Once you buy your state-approved fireworks and double check that they're legal, it might not be a bad idea to brush up on a few tips for staying safe. The L.A. County Sheriff's Department released some pointers to make sure your fireworks show stays legal and lit: 

To properly dispose of your fireworks after the show, wet them down and place them in metal trash cans away from buildings or combustible materials. 

Communities permitting state-approved fireworks:

County City  
Los Angeles Alhambra
Artesia
Azusa
Baldwin Park
Bell
Bell Gardens
Bellflower
Carson
Commerce
Compton
Cudahy
Downey
Duarte
El Monte
Gardena
Hawaiian Gardens
Hawthorne
Huntington Park
Industry
Inglewood
Irwindale
La Mirada
La Puente
Lakewood
Lawndale
Lynwood
Maywood
Montebello
Monterey Park
Norwalk
Palmdale
Paramount
Pico Rivera
Rosemead
Santa Fe Springs
South El Monte
South Gate
Temple City
Vernon
 
Orange Anaheim
Buena Park
Costa Mesa
Fullerton
Garden Grove
Huntington Beach
Santa Ana
Stanton
Villa Park
Westminster
 
Riverside Blythe
Cathedral City
Coachella
Desert Hot Springs
Indio
 
San Bernardino Adelanto
Barstow
Chino
Colton
Fontana
Grand Terrace
Rialto
San Bernardino
 
Ventura Fillmore  

Source: California Fireworks Newswire

Where to watch professional fireworks shows instead of worrying about lighting your own:

(Click the pins for details) 

Source: SafeJuly4th.org, Orange County Fire Authority

Pet Safety

Jennifer Grimes via Flickr

Despite the American flag bandana you tie around your pet's collar, your pooch does not understand why there's one day out of the year humans like to light things on fire and cheer when they explode in the sky. This means that pets often run off at the sound of pops and crackles from fireworks. Long Beach Animal Care Services suggests a few ways to help your pets stay calm during the Independence Day celebrations:

Travel

Car

AAA estimates that 3 million Southern Californians will travel at least 50 miles from home for the holiday weekend. That's the second biggest Fourth of July travel holiday SoCal's ever seen, Automobile Club of Southern California spokeswoman Marie Montgomery said. The top five destinations for SoCal residents according to the forecast:

Montgomery attributes the rise in travel to lower gas prices. There are 2.41 million SoCal residents expected to take advantage as they travel by car. 

"Airfares have also been positively affected by lower gas prices — they’re about 9 percent lower than they were during last year’s holiday,” Montgomery told KPCC. 

Los Angeles International Airport is expecting 9.7 percent more travelers across Independence Day weekend with a record 1.2 million travelers. The airport projects that Friday will be the busiest travel day with 265,000 people moving through. 

Current gas prices are lower than they were at this time last year, but Montgomery said they are ticking up toward $3 per gallon. 

“Even though gas prices are rising right now, they are still about 60 cents a gallon lower than they were this time last year,” Montgomery said. 

Montgomery said that some of the most common reasons for breakdowns in the summer are tire blowouts and dead batteries. 

“You really want to get your car checked out or check it out yourself before you take it on a long road trip,” Montgomery said.

If you're leaving before Friday, it's also important to keep in mind that a 31-mile stretch of the I-10 will be reduced to one lane both ways from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Thursday. The lanes will be fully reopened on Friday.

Air

Los Angeles International Airport expects 9.7 percent more travelers across Independence Day weekend with a record 1.2 million travelers. The airport projected that Friday would be the busiest travel day with 265,000 people moving through. 

In light of the recent attack at an airport in Istanbul, LAX police are remaining vigilant and bringing in additional resources for the holiday weekend, spokesman Rob Pedregon said.

“There’s been no credible threat to LAX, or to Southern California for that matter, and it’s very safe to fly,” Pedregon told KPCC. 

He said travelers can expect to see more officers on foot and bicycle, K-9 forces walking rounds at the airport and increased traffic officers. Some officers will carry rifles — a pretty typical measure, Pedregon said. 

"A lot of our officers are rifle-certified, and they have rifles that they carry with them on patrol. You will generally see that anyways, it’s just people seem to focus on it after an event happens,” Pedregon said.

Balancing out the sight of officers with rifles, the airport will also have its comfort dogs out to help calm people’s nerves before flying. Pedregon said to make sure to arrive 30 minutes earlier than you normally would, meaning two-and-a-half hours early for domestic flights and three-and-a-half hours early for international flights.

This story has been updated.