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Most nights along the Outer Banks it's not unusual to walk on the beach and see fireworks lighting the sky. It's a favorite vacation pastime for many celebrating Independence Day or just celebrating family and friends. Some do not know the dangers that they pose and that many of these devices are illegal in North Carolina.

North Carolina general statute GS 12-413 defines which consumer fireworks are actually allowed in North Carolina. Pyrotechnics, commonly known as 'Safe and Sane' fireworks, are the only ones allowed in North Carolina. These devices include caps, snakes and glow worms, smoke devices, trick noise makers, sparklers, and other sparkling devices such as fountains. Illegal fireworks include devices that leave the ground, such as bottle rocks 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.

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. Did you know that the tip of a lit sparkler can reach 1,200 degrees?

Because of the many dangers to public safety, 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 legal fireworks make sure to check with your local fire department for any additional regulations.

If you do decide to use consumer fireworks, here are a few tips to keep you safe!

  • Only use legal fireworks.
  • Don't allow children to light the devices.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Only use fireworks outside, on a level area, away from easily ignitable materials.
  • Do not point or throw fireworks at another person or animal.
  • Light only one device at a time and quickly move away to enjoy the show.
  • Do not 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.
  • Soak all spent devices with water before disposing the materials in the trash.
  • If a fire starts or someone is injured, call 911 immediately.

Hopefully, these tips will help you stay safe and have an enjoyable time! If you have any further questions, contact your local fire department or the Dare County Fire Marshal’s Office at 252-475-5750.

More information is also available at these links:

 Towns  Additional Fireworks Regulations
Dare County Hatteras Island  All fireworks are illegal and prohibited on Hatteras Island.  Any person violating any provision of this ordinance shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor and shall be fined $250.  County Ordinance Chapter 102 adopted March 19, 2007.
Dare County Unincorporated  No additional regulations
 Duck  Town of Duck Fireworks Regulations 
Southern Shores  Town of Southern Shores Fireworks Regulations
Kitty Hawk  No additional regulations
Kill Devil Hills  Town of Kill Devil Hills Fireworks Regulations
Nags Head  Town of Nags Head Fireworks Regulations 
Manteo  Town of Manteo Fireworks Regulations
A map of what fireworks are legal or illegal in each town on the Outer Banks. Fireworks that leave the ground, such as bottle rockets and mortars, and have a report or bang are illegal in North Carolina.