Sales of personal fireworks continue to soar, even with the return of 4th of July shows


When the pandemic prompted many cities to cancel their annual 4th of July pyrotechnics to keep crowds from gathering, people emptied the shelves of their local fireworks stores for socially distanced ways to have the glare red from their own rockets.

Even as municipal shows return this year, demand remains strong, with industry watchers believing people have developed a taste for their own small gatherings and a bug to blow things up.

In April 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law that allows Florida residents to legally use fireworks, but only on three days a year: New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and 4th July. But even before that, the laws were rarely enforced.

Related: Yes, most fireworks are illegal in Florida but that doesn’t stop anyone

Sales of personal fireworks have broken records during the pandemic. US revenues rose from $1 billion in 2019 to $1.9 billion in 2020, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. And while many municipal fireworks returned in 2021, personal sales reached $2.2 billion that year. The association predicts another jump in 2022 to $2.3 billion.

“Sales have blown everyone away, and 2021 has seen growth even compared to 2020,” said Jessi Dragoiu, purchasing and project development manager for Phantom Fireworks, the world’s largest fireworks retailer. country’s public. “We just think there’s something that drew people in, that we remember it was a lot of fun getting together in small groups.”

Andrea Conley of St. Petersburg loads her truck with fireworks that she and her husband bought Tuesday from Phantom Fireworks in Tampa. Even though big city shows are back this year, sales of personal fireworks, which have doubled during the pandemic, are still expected to climb. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

Along with these sales, injuries from fireworks have also increased during the pandemic.

In the United States, 18 people died in 2020 from injuries caused by fireworks, compared to 12 people the previous year, an increase of 50%, according to a report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

About 15,600 people visited the emergency room with injuries from fireworks in 2020, a 56% increase from 10,000 injured in 2019. The two leading causes of injury, according to the commission’s report , were firecrackers and sparklers. And of the 18 people who died in 2020, eight of them had used drugs or alcohol, according to the report.

Explosive "tanks" are one of the most popular personal fireworks.  The small cardboard tanks have wheels and move forward a few feet and emit sparks.  They sell for $24.99 for a pack of 12.
Explosive “tanks” are one of the most popular personal fireworks. The small cardboard tanks have wheels and move forward a few feet and emit sparks. They sell for $24.99 for a pack of 12. [ Phantom Fireworks ]

For those looking for a big bang, consumers can purchase what is called an aerial repeater. Various cylinders or cardboard tubes are wired together by a single fuse which will produce fireworks on multiple counts. These packages can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

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But most families start conservatively with sparklers and snaps, Dragoiu said, adding novelty items like fountains, spinners, sparklers and “reservoirs,” small cardboard reservoirs with wheels that move forward a few feet and shoot sparks out the back.

“There’s a kind of nostalgia there,” Dragoiu said.

Fireworks Safety

  • Always keep a water source nearby and turn off old appliances to avoid a trash fire.
  • Light fireworks on a hard, flat, level surface to ensure items are stable. If necessary, bury or wedge the object.
  • Children should never handle fireworks.
  • Do not mix fireworks with alcohol or drugs.
  • Always light your fireworks in a clear, open area away from buildings, vehicles and shrubbery. A minimum clear radius of 30 feet for fountains and other ground objects and 140 feet for any overhead product is recommended.
  • Never attempt to relight, modify or repair a “failed” pyrotechnic element.

fireworks label

Don’t be a bad neighbor, says New Port Richey’s Patricia Rossi, author of Everyday etiquette. Here are some golden rules to follow when it comes to fireworks:

Obey a curfew. Stop the noise before 10 p.m. and in no case after midnight.

Blow up stuff only on 4th of July. This is especially important for people with finicky pets. Their owners will likely have a plan in place to be home with them, or their vet may have given them medication to calm them down. This is not the case on the days before and after the holidays.

Clean up after yourself. Fireworks are messy and can also leave sharp bits that can hurt a bare foot or puncture a tire.

Buyers can choose different varieties of fireworks at Phantom Fireworks in Tampa.
Buyers can choose different varieties of fireworks at Phantom Fireworks in Tampa. [ JEFF WOO | Times ]

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