With the nation’s 235th birthday two days away, officials recommend that you leave the fireworks to the pros.
In North Carolina, anything that explodes is illegal, which includes aerial fireworks, roman candles, rockets and similar devices, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
“Anything that flies in the air or moves about is illegal in the state of North Carolina,” said interim Fire Chief Paul Ivey. “They can malfunction and fall to the ground before they explode and start a grass fire.”
Ivey said that grass fires account for most of their fireworks-related calls.
“It is especially dangerous now that we’re in a dry spell,” Ivey said.
Lumberton Police Chief Mike McNeill said that his officers will respond to calls as they come in, but that they were not patrolling specifically for fireworks this weekend.
Cities apply for permits to have the larger fireworks displays and contract with professional, licensed pyrotechnics companies, to ensure the quality and safety of their displays.
McNeill said that most people enjoy sitting back and watching the city’s firework display, rather than hassling with their own display.
This year’s Fourth of July celebration will be at Lumberton Senior High School tonight. The festivities will begin at 7 p.m. with a fireworks display about 9:30 p.m. Gold Rush will also perform at that event.
The Lumbee Regional Development Association will also have a professional display tonight as part of its 43rd annual Lumbee Homecoming. The colorful display will begin at 9 p.m. at the LRDA Office Complex.
But if you just can’t get enough patriotism from the professionals, your backyard display can still have some sizzle and pop.
Sparkles, fountains, smoke devices, snake and glow worms, noisemakers, sting poppers, snappers and toy pistol caps are permitted in the state, but cannot to be purchased by anyone younger than 16.
But don’t think that just because these fireworks are legal, they can’t cause injuries.
“Many people falsely believe that because sparklers and similar fireworks are legal and readily available, they are safe,” said Wayne Goodwin, insurance commissioner and state fire marshal, in a statement. “Too often, it’s small consumer fireworks that start fires or cause serious burn injuries. I encourage North Carolinians to leave all fireworks to the professionals.”
According to Goodwin, sparkles can burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.
About 8,600 people nationwide ended up in hospital emergency rooms in 2010 with fireworks-related injuries and about 30 percent of the injuries were from sparklers and legal fireworks, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Ivey advised that adult supervision and a water supply or fire extinguisher were necessary to ensure a fun, safe and fire-less Fourth celebration.
Here are a few more safety tips for your backyard displays:
— Read and follow directions before using fireworks.
— Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix.
— Adult supervision should be constant during all fireworks activities.
— When lighting fireworks, ignite one at a time, move away quickly and keep spectators at a safe distance.
— Never use fireworks indoors.
— Use outside away from buildings, vehicles and flammable materials, especially dry grass and leaves.
— Stay out of the line of fire and never shoot, aim or throw fireworks in the direction of another person.
— Have water nearby. Keep a bucket of water for used sparklers and a hose nearby.
— Do not attempt to re-ignite fireworks that have malfunctioned.
— Soak fireworks in a bucket of water and wait at least 15 minutes before disposing.
Source: The American Pyrotechnics Association
Tips for sparkler use:
— Children younger than 12 should not use sparklers without very close adult supervision.
— Always remain standing while using sparklers.
— Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.
— Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers.
— Be sure to drop spent sparklers directly into a bucket of water.
— Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person. Give them the sparkler unlit, then light it.
— Always stand at least 6 feet from another person while using sparklers.
— Never throw sparklers.
— Hold sparklers away from their body at arm’s length.
— Do not to wave sparklers, especially wooden stick sparklers, or run while holding sparklers.
Source: According to the National Council on Fireworks Safety
— Staff writer Ali Rockett can be reached at (910) 272-6127 or email@example.com.