Loudoun County fire officials are reminding residents that the safest way to enjoy fireworks is at a public display. But if you plan to light fireworks in your neighborhood, officials offer this advice:

* Purchase and use only legal fireworks. Fireworks stands in Loudoun are required to have a permit, and the fireworks they sell have been tested for suitability. Any firework that explodes, rises into the air, travels laterally or fires projectiles into the air is illegal to possess or use in the county without a permit.

Such fireworks include firecrackers, Roman candles and "shell" devices associated with aerial displays.

* Discharge legal fireworks only on your property or on property where you have permission to do so. It is illegal to discharge fireworks on public property.

* Fireworks should not be discharged by children. Even sparklers can be dangerous and should be used with extreme caution.

* Make sure the area where the fireworks will be discharged is level and clear of debris and tall grass. Wet the ground with a hose before igniting the displays.

* Have spectators stay at least 15 feet from the display.

* Avoid drinking alcohol if you are discharging fireworks.

* Keep a water supply or portable fire extinguisher close by.

* If you encounter a "dud," a firework that does not go off, do not run up to investigate. The firework might still go off. Wet it down with a hose before removing.

* When finished with your display, wet the fireworks and sparklers thoroughly and put them in a metal bucket outside overnight to ensure that they are extinguished before discarding them.