Do you plan on lighting off fireworks or attending a backyard fireworks show for the July 4th holiday? You might want to think twice.
Many fireworks, including those that launch into the air and those that explode on the ground, are illegal to possess and light off in Virginia and North Carolina.
And, a surprise to no one, they can also be dangerous if mishandled.
"Sparklers? They can reach temperatures over 2,000 degrees so that in itself is very dangerous," said Reginald Bolton, a Fire Marshal for Portsmouth Fire Rescue & Emergency Services. "Usually devices like firecrackers, you may light and it may not ignite and you go back to try and relight them and at that point you can receive injuries."
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fireworks injured more than 10,000 people in 2019, killing 12.
Between March and September of last year, the commission says firework-related emergency room visits increased 56 percent.
Bolton says people caught with illegal fireworks could face a misdemeanor charge and anyone who sees or hears fireworks in their neighborhood and feels unsafe can call for help.
"If they feel concerned to where they need to notify authorities, don't hesitate to do so because, I mean besides causing injury, they can cause damage to personal property also," he told News 3.
The CPSC has the following suggestions to help keep celebrations with legal fireworks safe:
- Never allow young children to play with, or ignite, fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.
- For more fireworks safety tips, visit www.cpsc.gov/fireworks.