DeKALB – Local fire departments say the best way to celebrate Independence Day this year is to leave the fireworks up to the professionals.
Both DeKalb and Sycamore fire departments urge residents to watch public firework shows put on by trained professionals this year rather than light up themselves. It is illegal to use fireworks in Illinois, but things such as party poppers, sparklers and smoke devices are allowed.
"If you can light it, it's illegal," said Eric Hicks, DeKalb fire chief. "That's our rule of thumb."
Even legal sparklers cause a threat because they burn at 1,800 degrees, which is hotter than the temperature needed to melt steel, according to a Sycamore Fire Department news release.
There were an estimated 1,100 emergency department treated injuries associated with sparklers in 2011, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
An average of 200 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries around the Fourth of July holiday, according to a DeKalb Fire Department news release.
Sycamore Fire Department responds to calls about burns caused by fireworks about two of three times a year, said Jim Ward, Sycamore fire prevention coordinator.
"The safest thing to do is don't do fireworks at home," Ward said. "Leave the fireworks to the professionals so nothing bad happens."
It is also illegal to use any type of firework – whether legal or not – on city property like the sidewalk and streets or parks. Instead, residents are reminded to use their own driveways.
Anyone who violates the fireworks ordinances are subject to fines. In DeKalb, the minimum fine is $50. In Sycamore, it's $100.
Residents also need to be mindful of other hazards on the Fourth of July holiday like the warm weather. The National Weather Service forecasts a high temperature of 73 degrees on Thursday with mostly sunny skies.
Hicks said residents should watch their alcohol consumption, make sure they are using safe grilling practices and stay hydrated.
Perhaps most importantly, residents should also remember to have fun.
"Enjoy the Fourth of July," Ward said. "Be safe, and be happy."
List of local fireworks shows
DeKalb Fourth of July Fireworks: 8:30 to 10 p.m. Friday at Hopkins Park, 1403 Sycamore Road, DeKalb
Shabbona Fireworks: dusk (around 9:15 p.m.) Friday at Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Road, Shabbona
Kirkland Fourth of July Celebration: 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Third Street in Kirkland
Sandwich Fourth of July Festivities: 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday at the fairgrounds, Suydam Road, Sandwich