RALEIGH, N.C. – N.C. Forest Service officials urge the public to use extreme caution with fireworks to reduce the risk of igniting wildfires during Independence Day celebrations.
“With the current COVID-19 pandemic and cancelations of local fireworks shows, more North Carolinians may resort to setting off backyard fireworks,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “During a typical year, we would encourage people to attend a local, professional fireworks display, but with that being difficult this year, we want to stress how important it is for people to be safe and take every precaution to protect lives and property.”
Even small, legal fireworks such as sparklers, fountains, glow worms, smoke devices, trick noisemakers and other Class C fireworks can be hazardous. For example, sparklers burn at temperatures above 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Glow worms burn directly on the ground near ignition sources. Wildfires caused by fireworks can be prosecuted under the forest protection laws of North Carolina, and individuals may be subject to reimbursing the costs for fire suppression.
If you take the risk of using your own fireworks, here are some safety tips to follow:
- Do not use fireworks such as ground spinners, firecrackers, round spinners, Roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars, which are illegal in North Carolina.
- Do not use fireworks near woods, dry vegetation or any combustible material.
- Do not aim fireworks at trees, bushes or hedges where dry leaves may ignite.
- Make sure fireworks are always used with adult supervision.
- Follow the instructions provided with the fireworks.
- Do not use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol.
- Always use in a large, open, preferably paved, area or near a body of water.
- Have a rake or shovel and a water source nearby.
- Ensure all burning material is completely extinguished afterward and monitor the area for several hours.
“With 13.4 million acres of wildland urban interface in North Carolina, we need to take extra precautions to prevent wildfires in our residential and developed areas,” said State Forester David Lane. “In addition to using fireworks safely, we need the public to remember safety first and to be responsible when using campfires, fire pits and grills. Never use a flammable liquid to ignite them and never leave them unattended.”
It’s also important to remember to douse burning charcoal briquettes or campfires thoroughly with water. Drown all embers, not just the red ones. When soaked, stir the coals and soak them again. Make sure everything is wet and that embers are cold to the touch. If you do not have water, mix enough dirt or sand with the embers to extinguish the fire, being careful not to bury the fire. Never dump hot ashes or coals into a wooded area.
For more information, contact your local N.C. Forest Service office or visit www.ncforestservice.gov.
–Christie Adams, N.C. Forest Service