Fireworks can be dangerous, so leave the light show to the professionals

Fireworks explode over the City of Asheville in this photo by Bill Rhodes.

It’s a patriotic holiday but the Fourth of July has a dark side. That’s because on a typical Fourth of July there are more fires nationally than on any other day of the year.

And fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires. More than 11,000 injuries occur annually in the United States from fireworks alone.

Many people falsely believe that because sparklers and similar fireworks are legal and readily available they are safe. But each July 4, thousands of people, most often kids and teens, are injured while using fireworks.

Too often it’s small consumer fireworks that start fires or cause serious burn injuries. A simple sparkler can burn at a temperature of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. To put that into perspective, a cake bakes at 350 degrees. According to the Consumer Products Safety Council, 230 people on average end up at the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries from June 20-July 20, 2014. More than 50% of the fireworks-related injuries reported in 2014 were burns.

So why take that chance of potential injury?

“We recommend people play it safe and attend a local firework display put on by the professionals,” said Kelley Klope of the Asheville Fire Department.

And there are plenty of fireworks displays put on by organizations around Western North Carolina. Here’s a list of Fourth of July fireworks displays, parades and festivals.

What’s legal, what’s not

Illegal fireworks in North Carolina are those which are propelled, create loud noises or move in any way. Legal fireworks are not loud and can emit showers or sparks.

Legal: Sparklers, fountains and novelty fireworks items that do not explode, spin or fly through the air.

Not legal: Firecrackers, ground spinners, roman candles, rockets (including bottle rockets), mortars, etc.

Some examples of legal fireworks are snake and glow worms, smoke devices consisting of a tube or sphere that produce white or colored smoke, trick noisemakers-including party poppers, string poppers and snappers and the ever popular sparklers.

The Asheville Fire Department enforces the law on fireworks as it is written in the North Carolina Fire Prevention Code and general statute regarding this issue. No one under the age of 16 is permitted to purchase fireworks and the fire department highly recommends any child using legal fireworks be supervised by an adult.

Visit for more information regarding fire safety. If you have questions or concerns regarding fireworks, please contact the Asheville Fire Department at 828-259-5636.

Fireworks photo courtesy of Bill Rhodes,