District: Legal fireworks include sparklers, fountains and snakes. Prohibited fireworks include firecrackers, skyrockets and sparklers that shoot more than 20 inches. Consumers should ask to see a vendor's license or certification where they buy fireworks. Use of illegal fireworks could result in a fine of up to $300 and 10 days in jail. Vendors who sell illegal fireworks can lose their business licenses.

Maryland: All fireworks, including sparklers, snap-and-pops and snakes, are illegal in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and in Baltimore City. In all other counties, only sparklers, snap-and-pops and snakes that produce gold sparks -- specifying that they do not contain chlorates or perchlorates -- are legal. Possession or use of illegal fireworks could result in $250 fine. Distribution or sale of illegal fireworks could result in $1,000 fine.

Virginia: Sparklers, fountains and spinning wheels are legal. Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington counties and the cities of Fairfax and Alexandria ban fireworks that shoot sparks more than 12 feet and those that shoot projectiles or explode. Violation of fireworks laws can result in up to $1,000 in fines and a year in jail.

GENERAL SAFETY

Do not allow children to use fireworks under any circumstances. Older children should be permitted to use fireworks only under close, responsible adult supervision.

Follow all warning instructions printed on labels. Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a metal or glass container. Keep unused fireworks away from the firing area. Store fireworks in a dry, cool place and check label for special storage directions.

Light fireworks only in clear outdoor areas away from other people, houses, flammable materials and dry leaves or grass.

Do not handle or try to relight malfunctioning fireworks. Douse or soak them with water and then discard them. Keep water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that do not go off.

Do not use any fireworks that do not have a manufacturer's name and address clearly marked on each item.