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Over the summer, families across Vermont and New Hampshire celebrate with picnics, beach trips, and neighborhood barbeques. Fireworks displays are frequently the highlight of Fourth of July festivities.

Many adults overestimate the ability of children to handle sparklers and fireworks. This puts everyone involved in danger of fireworks-related injuries to the hands and fingers, eyes or head, and can sometimes result in amputations, blinding, or even death.

Adults must set a good example for children and leave fireworks to the professionals. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at a community celebration where the display is supervised by a fire department and conducted by licensed professionals.

Private citizens are prohibited from purchasing, using, or bringing fireworks into Vermont; this includes bottle rockets; Roman candles; rockets with sticks, mines and shells; missile-type rockets; revolving wheels; fountains; and firecrackers. Penalties range from confiscation to fines to imprisonment.

In New Hampshire, fireworks laws vary by community; check with your fire department for laws in your town. No matter what the local ordinances say, state law forbids anyone under 21 from purchasing or using fireworks, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and reloadable shells are illegal everywhere in the state.

Even in the case where state laws allow sparklers and similar smoke novelties, care must be taken. These items are not toys and can be harmful, so they should be used only under supervision. Sparklers burn at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit or higher -- that's at least 300 degrees past the point where glass melts! They also encourage the use of matches and lighters by young children.

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