Keep it safe and sane

At certain times of the year, or in response to certain trends–high gas prices, for example–it’s not unusual to see numerous news outlets tackle essentially the same reaction story. One of the more interesting examples I’ve seen recently are stories assessing the weak economy’s impact on fireworks sales this summer.

While a few of those stories I’ve read indicated fireworks sales slowing in some areas, the majority seemed to be reporting a robust trade in the firecrackers, bottle rockets and various other forms of personal pyrotechnics many consider an essential part of the Fourth of July celebration.

State fireworks sales laws vary widely, with only five states–Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island–banning the sale of consumer fireworks altogether. Still, in states that ban or restrict fireworks sales, it’s often simply a matter of driving across a nearby state line to stock the Independence Day backyard arsenal.

Though I suspect personal fireworks displays will be ubiquitous most everywhere in the U.S. this weekend, I was surprised to learn just how large the fireworks business is in this country.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Assn., the use of backyard fireworks has more than doubled since 2000, with Americans setting off a staggering 238 million pounds of fireworks in their backyards, neighborhood parks, basements or wherever in 2007! Total fireworks industry revenue reached $930 million last year, according to the APA, with $620 million of that coming from consumer fireworks sales.

The association credits the increase in fireworks spending to “an upsurge of patriotism,” along with “an overall improvement in the quality and variety of fireworks available today.”

Whatever this holiday weekend might have in store for you, keep it safe and sane.

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