Pittsboro, NC – While many Fourth of July public fireworks displays are scheduled to watch this year due to the easing of restrictions across the state, the Chatham County Fire Marshal is reminding families to keep safety first when celebrating the holiday at home.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 18 firework-related deaths were reported in 2020, and about 15,600 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 2020, North Carolina reported 229 total incidents across the state, with the peak being unsurprisingly right around July 4th. 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. With gathering restrictions eased, many community events are back on this year; however, we are concerned about people using fireworks at home.”
Statewide numbers from the University of North Carolina show that burns account for 44% of the injuries treated in emergency rooms seen in the month around July 4th. Half of the fireworks injuries seen at emergency rooms were extremities: hand, finger, or leg. One-third were to the eye or other parts of the head. Children ages 10–14 had the highest rate of fireworks injury, with more than one-third (36%) of the victims of fireworks injuries under age 15.
“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,” added Judson.
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.
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Be extra careful with sparklers: little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees. Sparklers account for roughly one-quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.
- Let young children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun but do not burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks. Closely supervise older children around fireworks.
- 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.
- Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding. Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that do not go off or in case of fire.
- If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, do not 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 4th weekend to monitor fireworks activity. “If need be, we will confiscate and may also issue fines for illegal fireworks,” said Judson.