Officials give tips on how to stay safe around fireworks

GARNER, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tim Wendling, manager at the TNT Fireworks tent on Timber Drive in Garner, showed ABC11 what he considers the safest fireworks for children.

"You have a can of worms that light and just pops out, a little can of worms, nothing too dramatic, out of the ordinary," Wendling said. "These 'Pop-Its,' they don't even light. All you do is really throw those on the ground and they pop and make a little noise."

In North Carolina, any firework that leaves the ground is illegal.

"Illegal fireworks include firecrackers, ones that spin on the ground, roman candles, bottle rockets, or aerial fireworks," said Deputy Kevin Moore of the Wake County Sheriff's Office, adding that fireworks are not permitted near any landfills under Wake County ordinances.

Legal fireworks consist of the following: poppers, sparklers, fountains and others that don't leave the ground or fly in the air.

"Some of these include snakes, glow worms, smoke devices, noisemakers such as snappers and poppers or wire sparklers," Deputy Moore said.

If you're caught with an illegal firework, you could face a misdemeanor charge that is punishable by a fine up to $500 or up to six months imprisonment.

"You treat each one as if it's a time bomb because, in our eyes, it really is," said Orange County Fire Marshal Jason Shepherd, of Orange County Emergency Services.

Last year, there were 5,600 fireworks-related injuries across the nation between June 22 and July 22, according to the 2018 Fireworks Annual Report, conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Fire Marshal Shepherd said even legal fireworks like sparklers can pose a risk.

"They burn at 1,800-2,000 degrees and so when you hand that over to somebody, it's easy to get burned," he said.

He recommends the following:

  • Don't let kids light fireworks

  • Keep a water source nearby

  • If you're observing, keep your distance

Wendling agrees and added, "I'd recommend (parents) having a little punk to light, which is a longer stick to light the fuse, so they have time enough to move away, to be safe with the fireworks."

Officials are urging folks to attend official fireworks shows.

In addition, the North Carolina Forest Service is urging everyone to use extreme caution with fireworks during the dry conditions, saying fireworks caused 35 wildfires in 2018.

Here are safety tips from the North Carolina Forest Service:

  • 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 afterward and monitor the area for several hours.
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