Fireworks safety top of mind during Fourth of July holiday

Pittsboro, NC – With many Fourth of July public fireworks displays cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chatham County Fire Marshal is reminding families to keep safety first when celebrating the holiday at home.

photo by Stephanie McCabe

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), last year 12 firework-related deaths were reported, and about 10,000 people were treated for injuries in hospital emergency departments due to the mishandling of live and misfired fireworks, as well as leftover combustible materials not sold and stored improperly. In addition, fires resulting from fireworks cause more than $100 million in direct property damage.

“We want all Chatham County residents to have a fun and safe Fourth of July, but fireworks are dangerous to both adults and children if not handled properly,” said Chatham County Fire Marshal Billy Judson. “We know the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to visit public fireworks displays conducted by trained professionals; however, with many of these community events not occurring this year, we are concerned about more people using fireworks at home. If you are going to purchase and partake in consumer fireworks, a few simple precautions can prevent you or your loved ones from becoming one of these statistics.”

The Chatham County Fire Marshal offers the following fireworks safety tips: 

  • If you plan to use fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area.
  • Be extra careful with sparklers: Little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees. Let young children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun but don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.
  • Closely supervise children around fireworks at all times.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks.
  • Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass.
  • Point fireworks away from homes and keep away from brush, leaves and flammable substances.
  • Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it.
  • Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly.
  • If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don’t allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.

Judson reminds residents that many fireworks are illegal to use in the state of North Carolina, including but not limited to, exploding or flying fireworks such as bottle rockets, firecrackers, roman candles and large propelled display bursts.

Watch The Dangers of Fireworks, a demonstration by the Office of the State Fire Marshal, to see just how dangerous fireworks can be. 

The Chatham County Fire Marshal’s Office will be traveling throughout the county over July Fourth weekend to monitor fireworks activity. “If need be, we will confiscate and may also issue fines for illegal fireworks,” said Judson.