Officials urge caution with fireworks

By: By Beth Lawrence -
Jim’s Fireworks in McColl regularly sees customers coming from North Carolina to purchase contraband fireworks, especially around Independence Day.

LAURINBURG – Scotland County EMS Director Roylin Hammond said the fact that certain fireworks are illegal in North Carolina doesn’t stop some people from seeking them out.

“Our proximity to South Carolina lends us to have access to fireworks that are not legal in North Carolina,” Hammond said.

The sale and possession of certain fireworks is not allowed in the state including: firecrackers, ground spinners, roman candles, bottle rockets, mortars, and any pyrotechnic that spins, leave the ground or flies through the air.

Though most fireworks are illegal in North Carolina, there are a few which are allowed.

Items that fall into the category of display fireworks or consumer fireworks are allowed in North Carolina. Those include: sparklers, shower fountains, and novelty fireworks that do not explode like snaps and pops and glow worms.

Hammond advised people to obey state and local fireworks laws this Independence Day, but warned those who plan to set off fireworks to use caution.

There is not a specific county ordinance against fireworks, but there is a noise ordinance that can be interpreted to include fireworks.

The county ordinance states in part that any “unnecessary noise in the county is hereby prohibited.” The rule defines unnecessary noise as “Noise of such character, intensity and duration as to be detrimental to the life or health of any individual is hereby prohibited.”

The average decibel level of a firework ranges from 150 to 175 decibels, enough to damage hearing, and louder than a clap of thunder from a nearby storm which is 120 decibels. That is also louder than some gunshots which range from 140 to 190 decibels, depending on the type of weapon.

Every year around Independence Day Jim White of Jim’s Fireworks in McColl, S.C. sees an uptick in customers coming across the border from North Carolina to buy fireworks. White sees about 100 people weekly from across the state line leading up to the holiday.

Katherine, Blake and Hayley, students at Sandhills Community College who declined to give their last names, drove from Pinehurst to pick up a boxful of explosive party favors to celebrate the nation’s birthday.

“They have a better selection and better fireworks for your money than what you can get in Walmart,” Blake said.

Scotland County EMS has seen no serious accidents from fireworks in recent years, according to Hammond.

“Fortunately, fireworks injuries are not something we see a significant amount of,” Hammond said. “Just obey the laws; be careful cautious and use common sense.”

The students from Pinehurst say they do take precautions when handling their contraband ordnances.

“We have a five or six acre pond we shoot over, and we shoot from a mown field with no trees,” Katherine said. “Also the fastest runner [lights them].”

Lt. Jordan McQueen with the Laurinburg Fire Department, said the department rarely sees fires resulting from the handling of pyrotechnics.

McQueen’s best advice is to leave the fireworks to the professionals. He said those who want to set off fireworks should check with their local police and sheriff’s departments for laws regarding use.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety has issued the following guidelines for using fireworks.

— Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.

— Report illegal explosives like M-80s and quarter sticks to the police or fire department.

— Do not use homemade fireworks, professional fireworks or illegal explosives; they can kill you!

— Have a designated shooter who knows each firework, how it performs, and how to safely light the firework. Make sure he/she reads the caution label before igniting.

— Do not allow young children to handle fireworks.

— Always closely supervise teens using fireworks.

— Do not consume alcohol while using fireworks. Save your alcohol for after the show.

— Do not hold a firework in your hand unless specifically stated in the caution label.

— Only use fireworks outdoors.

— Always have water ready in a bucket and in a charged hose, if you are using fireworks.

— Wear eye and hearing protection whenever using fireworks.

— Only light one firework at a time.

— Never re-light a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes before moving it, and then soak it in a bucket of water.

— Used fireworks should be soaked with water and placed in a nonflammable trash can outdoors several feet away from a house, garage, deck area or anything flammable.

When it comes to fireworks safety, pets are a segment of the population that is often overlooked.

“We encourage people to be mindful of their pets,” McQueen said. “Don’t take your pets to fireworks, and make sure they have on an ID tag, just in case something happens.”

If owners or neighbors will be using fireworks, make sure pets are inside in an interior room.

Jim’s Fireworks in McColl regularly sees customers coming from North Carolina to purchase contraband fireworks, especially around Independence Day.’s Fireworks in McColl regularly sees customers coming from North Carolina to purchase contraband fireworks, especially around Independence Day.

By Beth Lawrence

Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169

Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169