Ask! Are fireworks a bad idea?

Q. My kids are driving me nuts begging to buy fireworks they see at the grocery store and at roadside stands. Is it safe to put on our own family fireworks show for July Fourth?

A. Any pediatrician worth his or her salt will tell you not to let your child play with fireworks. There are bigger and better fireworks available from the hands of professionals that you can go view on the Fourth. That being said, fireworks a like a lot of other things -- trampolines, zip lines, ATVs -- all of which shouldn't really be used by kids at all, but they're just so fun it's hard to stay away from them.

So, if you just can't stay away from the backyard fireworks, best to let the adult light them. I actually think it's good to let kids use matches under supervision so they don't become a secretive thing they play with when you're not around. But, lighting fireworks isn't the time to let them practice with matches. Get the kids lined up on a bench and the adult can light things.

In North Carolina there are restrictions on sale of high-powered fireworks, so the selection at Harris Teeter or Food Lion provides a good mixture of lights and sounds, but the fireworks are not as dangerous as M80s or some other big varieties. Also, don't forget "snappers," which are the little white paper things with sawdust in them that the kids can safely throw on their own.

So keep fireworks safety in mind, hopefully enjoying a professional display. Combine that with alcohol safety for the adults, sunscreen and adequate hydration, and this will be a terrific July Fourth.

For more tips on safety around fireworks, check out this story from today's News & Observer.