The phrase "the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air" is more than simply a line from "The Star Spangled Banner." It's a description of one of the most memorable parts of any Fourth of July celebration, the fireworks.

Fireworks are loud, colorful, exciting and extremely dangerous. In 2003, according to an American Society of Plastic Surgeons report, there were 9,300 fireworks injuries reported to emergency rooms across the United States, up from 8,800 in 2002.

Of those injuries, 51 percent were to the arms and legs, while 38 percent were to the head. Sixty percent of those hurt were age 19 or younger, with the highest risk to children ages 5 to 9. Burns accounted for 63 percent of all fireworks injuries in 2003.

Fireworks also can be extremely destructive. In 2002, the latest year for which national fireworks-related fire statistics are available, fire departments responded to an estimated 3,000 structure and vehicle fires started by fireworks. In 2002, fires started by fireworks caused $28 million in property damage.

The Enid area got a preview of potential July 4th problems last weekend when fireworks were suspected in a series of wheat and grass fires.

It is illegal to possess or use fireworks within the Enid city limits. Outside the city limits it is illegal to discharge fireworks from a roadway, and Enid

Fire Marshal Sam Schafnitt reminds anyone intending to use fireworks to first obtain permission from the landowner.

The safest and easiest way to celebrate the Fourth of July with a bang is to attend an organized, professionally run fireworks show.

Check the GET OUT! section of today's News -- Eagle for a list of fireworks shows and Independence Day celebrations throughout northwest Oklahoma. Enid's celebration will begin at about 8:15 p.m. Monday at Meadowlake Park with the exchange of flags of two adopted military units.

The flags are being returned with signatures from community members in Enid and soldiers overseas pledging their support for American troops serving around the world. The exchange culminates events from the Enid America Supports You campaign.

The city adopted the 71st Security Forces Squadron at Vance Air Force Base and the Army's 1st Battalion 24th Infantry Regiment from Fort Lewis, Wash.

Enid Symphony Orchestra will perform Monday, with fireworks scheduled to begin about 9.

Celebrate America's 229th birthday safely and sanely. Leave the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, to the professionals.

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