PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Fourth of July is quickly approaching, and experts are encouraging everyone who plans to buy fireworks to do so early.
That’s because there’s a firework shortage, primarily caused by a lack of workers and high shipping costs, according to Vice President of Atlas PyroVision Entertainment Group Matt Shea.
“The issues that we are having as an industry is that there will be fewer fireworks available for the retail customers this year,” Shea said.
The reason shipping costs have skyrocketed, according to Shea, is because containers aren’t returning to China as fast as they typically do.
“There’s been such a high volume of consumer retail spending in the United States,” Shea said. “A lot of containers are still on ships that are waiting to get into ports.”
As far as local Fourth of July displays go, Shea said those shouldn’t be affected by the shortage because many professional fireworks display companies, like Atlas, weren’t able to light off last year’s supply.
“Last year, display fireworks companies used only about 5-to-10% of all the fireworks they had ordered over the previous year for the summer of 2020,” Shea explained. “We really didn’t have to order anything for the display fireworks [this year].”
Walter Mandeville, owner of Firework Connection in Tiverton, tells 12 News he’s been seeing a shortage of ground fireworks.
Mandeville said his distributors have limited the amount of merchandise he’s allowed to order to 30% of what he typically purchases.
“Some companies have even taken away backorders, so we have to keep reordering as fast as they get new stuff,” Mandeville said. “Without backorders, it’s a lot harder to get stuff.”
Since he’s limited in what he can reorder this season, Mandeville said he fully expects to run out of certain products.
“There are things on these tables that will run out because you can’t get them again this year,” he said of his inventory.
Shea said those looking to buy retail fireworks this year should shop around now while stores are fully stocked.
“If you wait until the second, third and Fourth of July for picking up your fireworks from your local fireworks vendors, then you’re going to run into a problem with selection,” he said. “As the old saying goes: the early bird gets the worm.”
Currently, ground fireworks are the only kind that can be sold in Rhode Island. Firecrackers, rockets, mortars or any other device that launches a projectile are banned. All types of fireworks remain banned in Massachusetts.
Anyone who plans to light off their own fireworks should take the proper safety precautions:
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks
- Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
- Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
- Never light them indoors
- Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
- Never ignite devices in a container
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
- Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
- Never use illegal fireworks
More advice on lighting off legal fireworks can be found on the National Safety Council’s website.