Fireworks safety risks concern public officials this year

Jul 4, 2012

Last year in North Carolina, fire departments responded to more than 111 fireworks-related calls with property damage estimates of a quarter-million dollars.   As WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports, many people falsely believe that because sparklers and similar fireworks are legal and readily available, they are safe.

Nationally, an average of more than 200 people per day go to emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries during the month of July.  That’s according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

State Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin says North Carolina law requires operators to have a license and proper training – which makes watching a professional show the safest way to enjoy pyrotechnics.  But local residents planning to set off their own should make sure those fireworks are legal, says Goodwin.

“Generally speaking, any firework device that explodes or spins or flies or jumps off or leaves the ground is unlawful in the state.  And that includes your Roman Candles and bottle rockets and things."

Simple sparklers, fountains, or novelty fireworks that are strictly stationary are acceptable, says Goodwin.  Aside from the risk of injury, Goodwin says he’s concerned about errant sparks igniting fires due to abnormally dry conditions. 

New Hanover County officials have an even stronger message:  If at all possible this year, leave the fireworks to the professionals. 

The City of Wilmington holds its Battleship Blast tonight at 9:05 at the Wilmington Riverfront.  And Carolina Beach will put on its weekly fireworks show Thursday night.