LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The colors, booms, and bangs that paint the sky during the Fourth of July can be beautiful, but they can also be dangerous if you don’t handle them correctly.

The Lynchburg Fire Marshal’s Office says there were 8,500 injuries in 2021 from mishandling fireworks in the nation. However, what is legal and illegal when shooting off fireworks in the central Virginia area?

“Illegal is anything that leaves the ground,” said Jennifer Mayberry with the Lynchburg Fire Marshal’s Office.

Mayberry says any fireworks you find at tent sales around town are legal and inspected by the fire marshal. Anything illegal could possibly land you in jail.

When you buy legal fireworks, it is crucial to read the manufacturer’s instructions.

“Make sure you’re keeping it well away from your body so your clothes don’t catch on fire; a water hose in case the grass around you catches on fire,” said Mayberry.

She says you want to keep fireworks 25 feet away from any kind of structure.

Fireworks that don’t go off can pose a safety risk as well.

“Let it sit for 20 minutes — 20 to 30 minutes — and then put it in a bucket of water. Don’t try to re-light it,” said Mayberry.

A sure way to be safe is to go watch a professional show, like the one held by pyrotechnician Matthew Hovey.

“The entire show will be electrically fired, which I feel is a little bit safer than lighting it by hand,” said Hovey.

Even for professionals, safety comes first.

“We want to wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, all cotton, nothing that’s gonna catch fire. We wear hard hats, eye protection, ear protection. We put safety before everything else,” Hovey said.

Putting safety first means that we can all enjoy the holiday weekend.