Laws regulating the sale and safety of fireworks vary in both North and South Carolina. Counties and municipalities also regulate fireworks shows.
Local drought and water conditions can also affect whether fireworks can be set off legally or not.
This information is meant to serve as a general overview. It is best to check with your local fire department or county fire marshal's office to see what is allowed in your neighborhood.
Last year in North Carolina, fire departments responded to more than 111 fireworks-related calls with an estimated total of $225,000 worth of property damage. Nationally, an average of more than 200 people-a-day go to emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries during the month surrounding July 4, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Many people falsely believe that because sparklers and similar fireworks are legal and readily available, they are safe. Too often, it's small consumer fireworks that start fires or cause serious burn injuries. A simple, handheld sparkler can burn at a temperature of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. To put that into perspective, water boils at 212 degrees, a cake bakes at 350 degrees and wood burns at 575 degrees.
Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Goodwin encourages North Carolinians to:
Only attend public fireworks displays performed by trained and permitted professionals.
After the display, do not pick up or touch leftover fireworks because they may still be active.
Certain fireworks are illegal to sell or possess in North Carolina. These include firecrackers, ground spinners, bottle rockets, roman candles, and aerial fireworks. Violators of the law face misdemeanor charges punishable by a fine not to exceed $500 and/or imprisonment not to exceed six months.
In general, sparklers, fountains and novelty fireworks items that do not explode or are not intended to spin or to leave the ground and fly through the air, are permitted for use in North Carolina. A simple rule of thumb; anything that explodes or is projected into the air is illegal.
The Charlotte Fire Department wants to remind everyone that children under the age of 16 cannot legally buy or use fireworks in North Carolina.
Fireworks that are legal include:
· Snake and glow worms
· Smoke devices consisting of a tube or sphere that produce white or colored smoke
· Trick noisemakers, including party poppers, string poppers and snappers
· Wire sparklers
In 2007, approximately 9,500 people sustained an injury from fireworks serious enough to send them to their local emergency room. The majority of the injuries were from burns. Sparklers are the most frequent cause of firework injuries to children nationwide. A lit sparkler can reach temperatures of up to 1800 degrees that can cause third degree burns when a child grabs the wire.
The Charlotte Fire Department offers the following safety tips:
· Buy from reliable fireworks vendors
· Never alter fireworks or try to make your own
· Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
· Never carry fireworks in your pocket
· Loose clothing should not be worn while handling fireworks
· Fireworks are not toys and should only be handled by responsible adults.
· Have a hose or bucket of water nearby in case of a fire emergency
· Light one firework at a time and move away from it quickly, if a firework does not light the first time, do not attempt to light it again
· Ignite your fireworks outdoors on a paved surface, away from grass, trees and other vegetation
· Never shoot fireworks from a metal or glass container
With the drought conditions and water restrictions, people are encouraged to view firework shows rather than create their own display.
In South Carolina, most all types of fireworks are sold legally. Only explosives, like M-80s and Cherry Bombs, are outlawed.
You must be at least 16 to purchase fireworks.
When purchasing fireworks keep in mind that anyone trying to sell you fireworks from a vehicle or tent is breaking the law.
A state approved fireworks stand is issued two permits, one posted on the outside of the stand and one on the inside along with the license.
M-80s and Cherry Bombs have been outlawed by Federal Law since 1966. Firecrackers sold in the US can only have 50 milligrams or less of explosive.
Illegal fireworks can be seized by local law enforcement.
For many in South Carolina, the holiday season is celebrated with fireworks.
As exciting as this may seem, people often forget that they are playing with dangerous
chemicals and combustibles that can destroy property and injure people.
These deceptively simple objects explode, throw hot sparks through the air, and can
often reach temperatures hotter than 1,200 degrees.
"The safest way to enjoy fireworks is by attending a public fireworks display," says
State Fire Marshal, Adolf Zubia. If you plan to shoot your own fireworks, the Office of
State Fire Marshal advises you to follow a few safety tips to help reduce the chances of
a destructive fire and/or injury:
• Read and follow the directions on the packages of fireworks.
• Make sure adults supervise all use of fireworks. Young children should not play
with fireworks. Even sparklers can cause a serious burn injury.
• Do not point or throw fireworks at people.
• Use fireworks in an open area away from grass and other flammable materials.
• Light fireworks one at a time. Do not try to re-ignite fireworks. Soak fireworks
that did not ignite with water. Do not attempt to repair broken fireworks.
• Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
• Keep fireworks out of your pockets.
Nationally, fireworks have caused millions of dollars in property loss and thousands
of injuries and deaths. In South Carolina, during 2010, 208 fireworks-related fire
incidents were reported.
While July is peak grilling season, it is also the peak month for grill fires. More than half of home grill structure fires begin on either a courtyard terrace or patio, or an exterior balcony or open porch, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Goodwin advises residents to practice the following grilling safety tips:
Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
Never leave your grill unattended.
Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
For more grilling safety information, visit the NFPA website at www.nfpa.org.
An estimated 400 children age 14 and younger drown in swimming pools and spas each year across the U.S. A Consumer Product Safety Commission study found that 2,000 children are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries sustained in familiar surroundings, with a majority of those victims being supervised by one or both parents at the time of the accident.
Goodwin reminds parents and caregivers to Lock, Look and Learn:
LOCK – Homeowners should put up a fence that is at least 4-feet high around all sides of a pool or spa with a locking gate that closes and latches by itself. Homeowners should cover and lock pools and spas when they are not using them, and also remove or lock ladders to above-ground pools and spas when not in use.
LOOK – Adults and caregivers must always watch children — whether the children know how to swim or not — when kids are in or near water without being distracted by phone calls, text messages, reading or talking to others. If a child is missing, look in the water first.
LEARN – Children and adults should know how to swim. Adults should learn how to use rescue equipment and correctly choose and use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Caregivers should learn adult and infant CPR and teach children to never swim alone or swim near pool or spa drains.
For more detailed information about the Safe Kids Lock, Look and Learn program, go to http://www.safekids.org/parents/ and select the Water Safety Guide.
Sources: NC Office of State Fire Marshal, Charlotte Fire Department, SC Office of State Fire Marshal, SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved.
322 Shipyard Boulevard