Staying safe during the Fourth of July weekend

Ahead of the holiday weekend, officials are sharing tips for staying safe on the road and reminding people about the law when it comes to fireworks.
Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 8:19 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Bursts of colors will be filling the sky in many communities across the country this weekend in celebration of the Fourth of July.

Officials are sharing tips for staying safe on the road and reminding people about the law when it comes to fireworks.

AAA predicts a record number of North Carolinians will travel for the Fourth of July holiday, with the majority of travelers planning a road trip. It expects 35,000 more travelers than last year.

1.3 million North Carolinians are predicted to hit the road this weekend. Many of them are likely heading toward the beach or the mountains.

The Wilmington Fire Department sat down with WECT and shared tips on firework safety during the holiday:

Wilmington Fire Department shares tips on firework safety for July 4th

The Wilmington Police Department can’t stress these few tips enough: Take your time, be patient, understand that there’s going to be more traffic, don’t speed and most importantly don’t drive under the influence.

After all, speeding only saves a small fraction of time, according to a number of studies.

Law enforcement will be in full force over the weekend to crack down of dangerous driving.

“Throughout the country we see an increase in DWIs and we’re going to be out there strong and enforcing that. We’re going to be looking for DWI’s because we want to keep people safe and we don’t want drunk drivers out there running into people and killing people,” said Lt. Greg Willett of the Wilmington Police Department.

In addition to monitoring the roadways, law enforcement is also reminding people about the state laws when it comes to fireworks.

Any fireworks that are projected into the air are illegal in North Carolina, including roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars, and there can be big consequences if you don’t follow the rules.

South Carolina has fewer restrictions on fireworks, however, it is illegal to transport fireworks across state lines and you can be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor if you’re caught doing so. Plus, you could be fined up to $500 and land up to 6 months in a county jail.

Lt. Willett said that for them it’s a time to educate people about the law rather than handing out tickets.

“We understand it’s a holiday, but it’s more about education in those situations because a lot of folks don’t know they’re illegal. So a lot of times if there’s a call we’ll respond out there and we’ll let them know ‘Hey, you know, these kinds of fireworks you can’t have them in North Carolina.’ So it’s more about education at that point than it is writing a ticket,” said Willett.

The fireworks you can buy at nearby stores are fine for driveway or backyard displays, but when it comes to the big stuff, I’m told to leave it up to the professionals. After all, there are plenty of firework shows taking place this weekend.