Commissioner Steve Troxler: Independence Day Fireworks Safety

Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler is urging everyone to use safe practices when celebrating our nation’s independence this week.

July 4th is just around the corner and that might mean shooting off fireworks for some listeners. With dry conditions across the state, please use extreme caution if you plan to light fireworks. In 2018, 35 wildfires were started as a result of fireworks.

  • Many folks may have plans to grill out July 4th, or maybe shoot off fireworks. Either way, with dry conditions continuing across much of the state, it will be important for anyone using fire or fireworks to exercise extreme caution to prevent a wildfire.
  • As you know, 2018 was a very wet year. It seemed like we had a lot of rain, and then of course came the flooding from Hurricanes Florence and Michael.
  • Still, we recorded 35 wildfires last year that were started from fireworks. It is a strong reminder that accidents can happen, with significant consequences.
  • Because of the risk of wildfires, I would recommend taking in a professional fireworks show if possible. Many towns put on free fireworks shows to celebrate the holiday and bring the community together. You can bet they have taken a lot of precautions before they even light the first firework.
  • It is important to remember that even seemingly small fireworks can pack a punch. Sparklers burn at 1,800 degrees or more. Glow worms burn directly on the ground near their ignition source.
  • It is important to pay attention to your surroundings if you are considering fireworks, especially sources of fuel such as dried grass, twigs or other woody debris.
  • Other safety tips to consider if you decide to grill out or celebrate with fireworks include:
    • If you choose to display your own fireworks, here are some safety tips to follow:
    • Don’t 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 dry vegetation or any combustible material.
    • Don’t aim fireworks at trees, bushes or hedges where dry leaves may ignite.
    • Make sure fireworks are always used with adult supervision.
    • Follow instructions provided with fireworks.
    • Do not use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol.
    • Have a rake or shovel and a water source nearby.
    • Ensure all burning material is completely extinguished afterwards and monitor the area for several hours.
    • Never leave a campfire or grill unattended.
    • Douse campfire and grill ashes with water and stir. Repeat this process to ensure ashes are cold.
    • Place ashes in outside metal containers or bury them in mineral soil.
    • Never put ashes in a paper bag, plastic bucket or other flammable container.
    • Never store ashes in a garage, on a deck or in a wooded area.
  • Also remember that 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.