Fireworks stands have been popping up around Fort Knox lately in preparation for this year's Independence Day celebrations.

As motorists stop to get their share of firecrackers, fountains and sparklers, Fort Knox fire and safety officials are encouraging caution and dissuading military residents from transporting them on post.

"The [Fort Knox Regulation] 420-1 states that fireworks are strictly prohibited and only approved through the garrison via special permitting and all the licensing that somebody needs to have," said Matthew Woods, assistant fire chief of training at Fort Knox Fire & Emergency Services. "It covers everything."

National statistics seem to bear out the reasons behind all the strict on-post regulations. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks were to blame for an estimated 15,600 reported fires in the United States in 2013, including 1,400 structure fires, 200 vehicle fires and 14,000 other fires.

Even sparklers can pose a danger. Consumer Product Safety Commission data from June 20 to July 20, 2014, showed that sparklers alone "accounted for more than one-quarter (28%) of the emergency room fireworks injuries seen." Over 35% of those injured during the same timeframe were under 15 years of age; 9% were under 5.

For those who work at the installation but live off post and plan to use fireworks, Woods suggests several steps that should be taken to keep families and friends safe during and after all the fireworks fun.

Among them: Read labels on the fireworks packages before lighting them. Also, have a bucket of water on hand in which to place expended fireworks. Woods suggests leaving the fireworks in the bucket overnight to ensure the fireworks are fully extinguished.

The Kentucky State Fire Marshal Office has issued a list of safety measures that they recommend following. Suggestions include:

- Use fireworks outdoors only.
- Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
- Always keep a bucket of water or a working water hose nearby.
- Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter them or combine them.
- Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
- Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated adult shooter."
- Do not use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives -- they can kill you!
- Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Read and follow all instructions on the label.

Local and county laws vary depending on unique circumstances and the leniency of officials, according to Woods.

Pets can be another concern. Brian Wood, from the Installation Safety Office, recommends leaving them at home, inside, in a quiet area: "They will be very nervous and scared from the loud noise."

Both officials recommend leaving fireworks to the professionals for those who are unsure how to safely handle them, and attend the 2019 Fourth of July Celebration and ceremony at Brooks Parade Field.

"That's what we're all in support of," said Woods. "The [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] supports that event, and they put on an amazing display here at Fort Knox. We encourage everybody to attend that event; that way it's under a controlled environment and they still get a good show out of it."