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Home Fire Safety Tips for Fourth of July

Did you know that the yearly average number of fires started by fireworks is 18,500 per year, with 1,300 of those as structural (home) fires? The staff here at GenX Security wishes you all a safe and sound Fourth of July as you celebrate our nation's Independence Day! We hope the following information from McDowell News in North Carolina will help you prepare yourself, your home, and your family for a fire-safe holiday. While this article does go into specific North Carolina laws, the fire safety tips are applicable anywhere in the nation. Celebrate and be fire-safe!

Happy Independence Day from GenX Security!

As Fourth of July rolls in the next few days, law enforcement and emergency agencies want to advise citizens about fireworks – namely, what is legal, what is illegal and what is the safest way to use them.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks on Independence Day in a typical year account for two out of five of all U.S. fires, more than any other cause. On average each year, there have been 18,500 reported fires started by fireworks, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 16,900 outside and other fires. In 2015, there were 11 reported deaths and an estimated 11,900 people injured by fireworks, with 67 percent of those injuries occurring within 30 days leading up to Fourth of July, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In a statement made to the press on Thursday, State Fire Marshall Mike Causey warned N.C. natives of using fireworks heading into the holiday.

“Some people when they were kids may have had firecrackers and sparklers, but they need to realize these devices are not toys and respect them, and also realize that there are so many more fireworks now that are more dangerous,” said Causey. “I hope all North Carolinians enjoy a safe holiday, but ask that they please leave all fireworks—even those legal in the state—to the professionals.”

As far as estimates in McDowell County, Emergency Services Director William Kehler said the agency has seen several calls for burns by fireworks. While Kehler could not provide specific numbers related to the past five years, he claimed there were no calls for fireworks- related burns last year.

When asked about their prior experience with fireworks in the county, legal or otherwise, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office said: “Every Fourth of July, law enforcement and emergency services crews across the county respond to sporadic fireworks-related calls. They range from questions about what’s legal and what’s not, to noise violations to possible grass fires. However, we are very fortunate in that those calls are sporadic and, most times, minor. The citizens of McDowell County generally heed fireworks safety rules, and we are grateful for that. The Sheriff’s Office wants everyone to have a fun and relaxing holiday and not have to spend it with an injured loved one.”

Regardless, McDowell law enforcement did stress to citizens without permits to purchase and use legal fireworks if celebrating. Under the North Carolina General Statute, pyrotechnics allowed to be sold, used or possessed without a permit include:

- Explosive caps designed to be fired in toy pistols, provided the explosive mixture does not exceed twenty-five hundredths (0.25) of a gram for each cap

- Snake and glow worms

- Smoke devices containing a pyrotechnic mixture that produce white or colored smoke

- Trick noise makers (party poppers, string poppers, snappers or drop pops)

- Wire sparklers

- Any other sparkling device that does not detonate or explode, does not spin, are hand-held or ground-based, cannot propel itself through the air and contains no more than 75 grams of chemical compound per tube or 200 grams if combined.

Causey cautioned to also use safe handling of wire sparklers, which, according to his statement, can burn at a temperature of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Causey also stressed not to pick up or touch leftover fireworks from shows as they may still be active.

Chief Allen Lawrence of the Marion Police Department advised community members to only purchase in-state fireworks when celebrating, saying, “A lot of people go to South Carolina and purchase illegal fireworks and bring them back here. We would urge people to abide by the law and leave the aerial fireworks to the professionals. The city of Marion puts on a great show free of charge that’s fun and safe for all.”

The U.S. Forest Service has also advised that fireworks are prohibited from National Forests in the state; the possession or discharge of all types of fireworks and pyrotechnics are prohibited on all national forests year round, and all fires need to be extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving them.

All things considered, if someone wishes to use fireworks at home or in a non-hazardous location, the best – and safest – way to handle them is simple, according to Marion Fire Department’s Fire Inspector Kevin Owenby, “Light your fireworks and stay a safe distance away.”

To learn more on fireworks safety, visit


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