Do’s and Don’ts of July 4 fireworks

By on June 30, 2020

Dare County

While the 4th of July will look different on the Outer Banks this year with professional fireworks shows cancelled or rescheduled due to COVID-19, families can still enjoy their traditions and celebrations in a re-imagined way. It may be more tempting than ever to shoot off your own fireworks, but leaving the patriotic pyrotechnics to the professionals is always a wise idea. If you are familiar with the Outer Banks, you know it can be quite windy and many of the beach cottages and homes in our area have wooden shingles. Wind, wood, dry dune grass and fireworks are not the perfect combination for a festive 4th of July! Opt for the beach, sun, waves and stars instead. This 4th of July, grab a blanket (and some bug spray) and head out to your favorite beach to watch for shooting stars.

What devices or fireworks are prohibited and where?

All fireworks are illegal in the following areas: the Town of Duck, the Town of Southern Shores, the Town of Nags Head, the Town of Manteo, and some sections of unincorporated Dare County, including Hatteras Island. Before lighting any fireworks, visit to find each town’s ordinances and specific rules and regulations.

Illegal fireworks in the state of North Carolina include devices that leave the ground, such as bottle rockets and mortars, and have a report or ‘bang.’ Examples of these include firecrackers and M80s. These types of devices are not legally available in North Carolina.

The use of legal fireworks is allowed in the towns of Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills as well as the unincorporated areas of Roanoke Island and the Dare mainland villages. Pyrotechnics, commonly known as ‘Safe and Sane’ fireworks, are the only fireworks legally allowed in areas of North Carolina where local ordinances don’t prohibit their use entirely. These devices include caps, snakes and glow worms, smoke devices, trick noise makers, sparklers, and other sparkling devices such as fountains.

Consumer Fireworks Safety 

There are many inherent dangers with fireworks. The National Fire Protection Association reports that fireworks caused an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused $105 million in direct property damage. These devices also cause nearly 9,100 injuries each year.

If you do decide to use legal consumer fireworks in an area where allowed, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

  • Don’t allow children to play with or light the devices.
  • Light only one device at a time and quickly move away to enjoy the show.
  • Never place any part of your body overtop the device.
  • Have a bucket of water or water hose readily available where you are lighting the fireworks in case a fire starts.
  • Do not attempt to relight a device that does not ignite and properly fire.
  • Thoroughly soak the device prior to disposing.


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