Fireworks are a traditional part of Independence Day celebrations across the nation. There is nothing like a dazzling display of fireworks to complete the holiday, but Fire Marshal Clyde Ellis, Ardmore Fire Department, said while firefighters encourage local citizens to enjoy public fireworks displays, shooting off fireworks within the city limits is illegal.

"If we find anyone with open packages in the city limits we will confiscate them," he said.

What's the big deal about a small package of noisy Black Cats, sparklers, or even something with a little more pizazz for a backyard party? Plenty, Ellis said. For example a single, seemingly innocent sparkler can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees F and burn not just the user but bystanders. That's a sobering thought, because Ellis said many people believe sparklers are a safe way for small children to participate in activities that include shooting fireworks. Even more sobering, is the fact that even the smallest firecrackers can produce severe burns, scars and disfigurement that will last a lifetime.

Then there is the potential a home produced fireworks display can cause a devastating blaze.

"A report from the National Fire Protection Association indicates in a typical year, on the Independence Day holiday, fireworks cause more fires in the U.S. than all other causes of fire combined," Ellis said.

While Ellis said fireworks are illegal within the city limits and will not be tolerated, they aren't illegal in rural areas of the county. And, he knows some area residents won't heed warnings about the dangers of individual fireworks displays. So for those intent upon shooting off fireworks on their own outside the city limits he offers the following tips compiled by the National Council of Fireworks Safety:

— Always read and follow label directions

— Have an adult supervise all fireworks activities

— Buy from reliable sources

— Ignite outdoors, away from buildings and vehicles

— Keep a bucket of water handy

— Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks

— Light fireworks one at a time

— Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks

— Store fireworks in a cool, dry place

— Never throw fireworks at another person

— Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers

— Eye protection should always be worn by the fireworks shooter

— No part of the shooter's body should be over the firework