The Fourth of July weekend is upon us, the absolute best time of year for Americans to celebrate independence by blowing stuff up with loud, mesmerizing fireworks. In many cases, such shenanigans, while definitely fun and perhaps even patriotic, are not exactly legal. That doesn't stop thousands of people from firing off a few bottle rockets or even hosting mom-and-pop fireworks shows in their backyards after the sun goes down.
Revelers should be on warning, however. From Sioux Falls, S.D., to Orange County, Calif., from Long Island to Honolulu and pretty much everywhere in between, police say they are stepping up enforcement in terms of reining in illegal fireworks. Still, more often than not, nothing bad happens beyond some oohs and aahs when most people set off fireworks, and police generally ignore their quasi-legal status unless what's taking place is especially dangerous and stupid.
If you're wondering where the line is in between lighthearted tomfoolery and downright dumbassery, even criminality, well, here are 10 things that you should NEVER, EVER do with fireworks—on the Fourth of July weekend, or ever. Please do NOT:
Bring Them on a Plane
The Transportation Security Administration sent a reminder recently alerting travelers that fireworks—even little sparklers—are banned from flights. You can't bring them aboard aircraft in your carry-on, nor are you allowed to stick them in checked luggage. They'll be confiscated at the airport if you try to bring them a security checkpoint, your bag will have to go through security again after they're removed—and you'll annoy all of the travelers behind you who are coping with extremely long lines at airports nowadays.
Put Them in the Mail
Sorry, the U.S. Postal Service has a ban on the mailing of most fireworks and all explosives. Standard fireworks can't be shipped via UPS or FedEx either, though in some cases companies deliver fireworks orders via common carrier truck.
Buy or Sell Them on Craigslist
Last week, a Long Island man found out the hard way that it's a bad idea to try to sell fireworks illegally—and it's even dumber to publicly advertise that's what you're doing on Craigslist. The individual rented a U-Haul truck and purchased fireworks in Pennsylvania, with the intention of selling them for a profit on Long Island. But the police saw his ad on Craigslist, and after an undercover officer made a buy, the man was arrested and $2,000 worth of fireworks was confiscated.
In another recent episode, two men in Nebraska were arrested and thrown in jail for selling illegal homemade fireworks.
Set Them on Fire Inside a Walmart
Or inside any store, of course. A Walmart in Phoenix had to be evacuated a couple weeks ago after a group lit off fireworks inside the store—not far away from where the propane, lighter fluid, and charcoal is stored. Police are looking for the three suspects captured on video who are believed responsible for the dangerous, super-dumb prank.
Use Them as a Weapon
Also in Phoenix—apparently, a haven for pyros—a man was recently arrested for allegedly robbing a string of Circle K stores with the help of fireworks to threaten and distract store employees.
Light Them in an Overgrown Grassy Field
This is asking for trouble. Grassy areas are prone to setting ablaze when sparked by even mild-seeming fireworks. Fireworks can be especially dangerous when weather conditions are dry, because grasses and greenery are more likely to catch fire. In fact, parts of Michigan are banning fireworks for this Fourth of July weekend because the weather has been so dry and the risk of fire is elevated.
Use Them to Freak Out Animals
Dogs especially have highly sensitive hearing, so loud noises like those produced by fireworks can be terrifying. Animal shelters recommend that owners fight the urge to bring dogs to fireworks shows. Don't leave your dog in the car while the show is going on, either—the heat inside the vehicle might be suffocating. Some pet lovers even suggest sound-proofing your home or hitting the road if you live in an area where people set off lots of fireworks.
Read Next: What America Spends on Fireworks for July 4
Stick Them Inside Your Body
Or anyone else's body, for that matter. And yes, this happens. One episode memorably recorded in The Atlantic told of a young man partying at a fraternity house who, while "under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself," came up with what seemed like "an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air." Naturally, he wound up in the hospital.
Set Them Off When You're Stupid Drunk
Maybe this should be first on the list. Take this step and certainly, many of the other bad ideas would probably never take flight.