How to stay safe this Independence Day

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Many will gather with friends and family for Independence Day as they're off from work and school.

It can be a magical holiday and beautiful to watch the fireworks, but experts warn people they can also be dangerous.

"It just takes one small mistake, one split second to have a very serious injury or worse yet, be killed," said Art Kohn, the Public Information Officer for the Virginia Beach Fire Department. "We're talking gun powder, explosive materials, things that burn at incredibly hot temperatures and that is a recipe for trouble."

There will be added patrols in certain cities to make sure people are not setting off fireworks in cities where it is illegal.

News 3 has put together some tips for keeping safe around fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Also attached are the rules and regulations for the use of fireworks in cities across Hampton Roads.

Safety tips for when using fireworks: 

1. Put sparklers in a bucket of water once they are out. They can still cause burns when they are no longer lit.
2. Stay away from ground-based sparkler devices
3. If a sparkler or fireworks does not go off, douse it with water before handling it.
4. Keep a safe distance from any display, yours or a professional one, just in case something goes wrong.
5. Do not pick up any debris with your hands before it has cooled or been doused in water

*For more safety tips, visit the National Council on Fireworks Safety's website here. 

Fireworks laws in Hampton Roads: 

Hampton

Norfolk 

Virginia Beach 

Newport News

Suffolk 

Portsmouth 

Chesapeake

Since a record number of people will be traveling this holiday season, officials are also stressing the importance of staying safe while on the road.

According to the American Automobile Association:

"A record-breaking 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Independence Day holiday, an increase of more than 5 percent compared with last year and the highest number since AAA started tracking 18 years ago. For the 39.7 million Americans planning a Fourth of July road trip, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be twice as long as than the normal trip, with Tuesday being the busiest day. In Virginia, there will be over 1.2 million travelers heading out to celebrate the holiday, a 5.8 percent increase from the previous year."

“This Independence Day will be one for the record books, as more Americans take to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways than ever before,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Confident consumers with additional disposable income will look to spend on travel this holiday, building on an already busy summer travel season.”

They said in addition to strong economic variables, the expected increase in travelers this year is helped by Independence Day falling on a Wednesday, giving travelers more flexibility to schedule a trip the weekend before or after the holiday.

"The biggest thing is to not be distracted. There's a lot of deaths and injuries because of distracted drivers," said Katharine Beachboard with AAA.

The Independence Day holiday period is defined as Tuesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 8.