The Wilmington Fire Department is encouraging the community to leave the fireworks to the professionals during the Fourth of July holiday.
Even though some minor, smaller fireworks are legal, they are dangerous and can cause serious injury, according to Wilmington Fire Department Public Educator Wendy Giannini.
“At the Wilmington Fire Department we oppose the use of commercial fireworks. They’re just not safe. Commercial fireworks are dangerous and are also misused,” Giannini said.
Sparklers, a legal firework in the state, can burn at a temperature of more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit–hot enough to melt glass and some metals–and can cause third-degree burns, according to statistics provided by the fire department.
In 2014, there were 11 deaths and more than 10,000 people who sustained injuries related to fireworks, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. On average, 230 people go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries every day around the Fourth of July.
“We try to educate folks. The one thing that we like to tell people is that even though some of those minor and smaller [fireworks] are legal, we recommend to all the public to just…take in the local fireworks displays that are going to be in the area, that are permitted and run by professionals,” Wilmington Fire Marshal Sammy Flowers said.
But for those who choose to use fireworks at home, the fire department has recommended some basic safety tips. Flowers recommends using a hard, flat surface with some measure a safety–a bucket of water, a water hose or a fire extinguisher–that is easily accessible.
“Always have a safety zone for the kids,” Flowers said.
Other safety tips suggested by the Wilmington Fire Department include:
- Only adults should handle fireworks
- Supervise children around fireworks at all times
- Never light fireworks indoors or on dry grass
- Never hold a child in your arms while using fireworks
- Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time
- Place used sparklers in a bucket of water or sand
- Stand at least 6 feet away from another person while using sparklers
- Never wave sparklers or run while holding them
What’s legal and what’s not?
North Carolina law requires the purchaser of any consumer fireworks to be at least 16 years old.
According to the Wilmington Fire Department, a violation of fireworks laws is classified as a misdemeanor, which may be punishable by a fine of up to $500 or up to six months in jail, depending upon the level of violation. The fireworks laws cover transporting, displaying, storing, selling, possessing and using illegal fireworks.
Sparklers, fountains, novelty fireworks and items that do not explode, spin or fly through the air are considered legal in the state. Firecrackers, ground spinners, roman candles, rockets (including bottle rockets), and mortars are not legal.
For more information about fireworks safety click here.