With the upcoming Independence Day festivities, the Santa Monica fire and police departments urge residents not to use fireworks within city limits.

Using any type of fireworks is illegal, including those that can be purchased in a city where it is legal. Safety officials continue to stress the importance of avoiding these consumer fireworks, and encourage residents to instead attend professionally executed firework displays.

According to the SMFD, in 2010 fireworks caused approximately 15,500 reported fires nationwide, including 1,100 total structure fires and 300 vehicle fires. In addition, about eight civilian deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in property damage also occurred because of these fireworks-related fires.

Also in 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated approximately 8,600 people for fireworks-related injuries, and the risk of these types of injuries was highest for children ages 5 to 14.

As enjoyable and festive as Independence Day is, more U.S. fires are reported on July 4 than on any other day of the year, and fireworks are the leading cause of these fires.

An additional hazard associated with the celebrations that occur on or around July 4 is that pets often become startled by all the commotion. The loud noises emitted by fireworks and the large gatherings of guests can confuse and scare pets, which causes many shelters to be filled with lost and injured animals every Independence Day, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles.

spcaLA recommends that dogs and cats be microchipped and wear I.D. tags to ensure an efficient and successful return of these lost animals to their owners. spcaLA is hosting a low-cost vaccine and microchip clinic on June 30 at the Pitchford Companion Animal Village and Education Center in Long Beach from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help promote this safety procedure.

They also recommend that owners keep their pets indoors and away from the noise, especially if they are hosting a party. However, they warn owners not to tie up dogs outside, as doing so can make pets even more scared and likely to attempt an escape, which could lead to serious injury. Children are also urged not to use firecrackers or sparklers near their pets.

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