For Immediate Release: July 1, 2013

State Fire Marshal Urges Residents to Leave Fireworks to the Pros

Legal or not, Goodwin reminds citizens that fireworks are too risky for amateurs.

RALEIGH -- Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin warns North Carolinians about the dangers of consumer fireworks as they celebrate this holiday weekend.

"Many people falsely believe that because sparklers and similar fireworks are legal and readily available that they are safe," said Goodwin. "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."

In 2012, about 8,700 people nationwide ended up in hospital emergency rooms with injuries involving legal and illegal fireworks, with 60 percent of those injuries occurring in the month surrounding the July 4th holiday, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Injuries from sparklers, bottle rockets and small firecrackers made up approximately 1,000 of those emergency room visits.

"It is really tragic that a day of celebration can be changed in an instant by the use of consumer fireworks,” said Dr. Bruce Cairns, M.D., a trauma surgeon at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Healthcare in Chapel Hill. "One of the major goals of the Jaycee Burn Center is to prevent burns from ever occurring in the first place. We support the fire service in encouraging families to enjoy a fireworks display provided by trained and licensed professionals."

A simple, handheld sparkler can burn at a temperature of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. To put that into perspective, water boils at 212 degrees, a cake bakes at 350 degrees and wood burns at 575 degrees.

Last year in North Carolina, fire departments responded to more than 100 fireworks-related calls with an estimated $300,000 worth of property damage.

North Carolinians are encouraged to only attend public fireworks displays performed by trained and permitted professionals. After the display, do not pick up or touch leftover fireworks because they may still be active.

"On this Fourth of July, we want everyone in the state to enjoy a festive and safe celebration of our nation’s founding; however, even legally sold consumer fireworks pose a serious danger,” said Interim Deputy Chief Dace Bergen of the Chapel Hill Fire Department. "It only takes a second to become seriously burned by high-temperature sparklers or other fireworks. Please consider attending one of the professional displays in your area, such as the fireworks celebration planned for UNC’s Kenan Memorial Stadium.”