Wayne free of accidents in '04 but fire marshal urges caution
By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on July 1, 2005 1:45 PM
Wayne County might not have had a single firework-related accident in 2004 but that doesn't mean that residents should let their guard down if they decide to add a little sparkle to their holiday weekend.
Nationwide, in 2003 there were more than 9,300 firework-related accidents, according to national statistics. Of that number, 45 percent were injuries to children under the age of 15.
Wayne County Fire Marshal Brian Taylor said that should send a strong message to parents.
"If children are going to use fireworks, they should have adult supervision," Taylor said.
He advises that children under the age of 16 not use fireworks.
At the fireworks tent sponsored by The Lord's Vineyard Church in Pikeville, sales are brisk as families prepare for their celebrations.
For boys, noise and smoke are the results of choice for a firework, while girls prefer colorful, sparkling objects, said Raylene Taylor and Janet Rice, who were working under the tent this week.
Very few fireworks are legal in North Carolina, they say, and all theirs meet state standards.
Jim Long, insurance commissioner and state fire marshal, said fireworks with 200 grams or less of chemical compound per device are the only legal fireworks that can be used in North Carolina.
The federal code regarding fireworks recently changed to include larger ground effect sparklers, but North Carolina elected to keep a more conservative limit. The rule includes fireworks bought in and outside of North Carolina.
"Even if you buy fireworks across state lines, using them in North Carolina is against the law," Long said.
Illegal fireworks include devices that explode, spin, fly or jump in the air or leave the ground in any way. Specific types include fountains, glow worms, snap pops, firecrackers, ground spinners, Roman candles; bottle rockets, mortars or any other novelty devices.
Although sparklers have the potential to burn as hot as 1,200 degrees, they are legal in North Carolina.
Parents or other adults using legal fireworks should pay close attention to their surroundings and should never point them at people, pets, cars or buildings, Taylor said. They should also keep a hose or bucket of water nearby in case of a fire emergency.
"People need to use a lot of precaution as to where they set them off at. Set them off on concrete or in a field in the distance," Taylor said. He also said that if people do decide to use fireworks in their back yard, they should test the grounds before doing so because of the recent drought in Wayne.
Taylor said to test the ground, feel it to see if it is too dry, or set a match to a small area. If the grass catches fire fairly easily, wet before using any fireworks.
Taylor said if any of the fireworks get wet, they should be discarded to prevent fire and injuries.
"Attending a professionally-produced fireworks show is the safest bet," Long advised. "But if you do choose to set off fireworks at your home, keep them away from children, follow the law and stay safe."
By MYRA FREDERICK
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