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Increase in home fireworks use anticipated as public displays are canceled

A row of fountain fireworks on a table at a stand in a Safeway parking lot.
Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media
Dechryl Curtis says the stands are always waiting for a new shipment of fireworks.

More people are expected to celebrate this 4th of July at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether that’s good news or bad depends on who you talk to.

Many Delawareans enjoy heading to a local public fireworks display as part of the holiday.  But this year, those shows have been canceled, leaving many people to consider holding their own show at home instead.

And Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio says that’s something his office never recommends.

“There’s an inherent risk when you’re lighting something on fire and shooting it in the air, you know. You don’t know if it’s gonna catch on fire or if it’s gonna hurt somebody. There’s just too many risks to safely be able to do that.”

Thousands are injured by fireworks nationwide each year, and Chionchio is concerned injuries this year could burden hospitals already taxed by COVID-19.

An infographic displaying the most injured body parts by fireworks. The hand is the most at 28%
Credit National Fire Protection Association
The NFPA says one third of fireworks related injury victims were under the age of 15.

 But local fireworks stands, like the one run by Dechryl Curtis in Dover, say safety is on the top of their minds. And she offers customers tips on how to stay safe.


“A lot of my customers that come in and they joke with me and they say, well I’m not gonna burn my finger off am I? And I say as long as you don't use those little teeny matches," said Curtis, who has been running her booth for 2 years as a way to raise money for her ministry." Some people wanna use those little teeny matches where it doesn’t give you enough distance in between. I recommend to use one of those lighters where you have at least an arms distance away from the fuse.”


Fireworks retailers expect an increase in sales because public displays are called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“I started off a little slow, but I’m maintaining," said Curtis, whose stand is one of a few TNT Fireworks stands in the Dover area. "But I’m hearing that they sold out, so they’re actually waiting for another shipment and I’m waiting for another shipment because I’m selling through what was left here but overall, it’s good, it’s good.”

Curtis notes there can be huge rushes and lines out the door on the 4th of July

Delaware is stricter on fireworks sales and use than other nearby states, banning the use of aerial fireworks by consumers. But Curtis says many people take the short trip into Pennsylvania to get Roman Candles despite the safety and legal risks.

The National Fire Protection Association suggests using glow sticks and noise makers, or have an outdoor movie night instead of using fireworks this year.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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