Viewpoint: June 29, 2012

As we prepare to celebrate the nation's birthday with backyard barbecues and parties, remember to take some simple steps to ensure a safe Fourth of July.

While fireworks are illegal throughout all of East Baton Rouge Parish, they are legal in some parts of our viewing area. If you plan on using them, use common sense. Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter them.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety advises only those older than 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers. Always have water handy and have a designated shooter as alcohol and fireworks don't mix.

Law enforcement will also be on the lookout for anyone shooting guns into the air. It's a dangerous practice that could turn deadly. Last year, there were more than 9,000 emergency room visits across the country related to July 4th. Don't become a part of that statistic.

The Fourth of July is a great time to get together with family and friends. We hope you and your family have a happy and safe holiday.