- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) - In the coming weeks, skies across the county will light up with neon reds, whites and blues in celebration of Independence Day.

And critical to the success for each of those thunderous backyard displays of patriotism is a shop like Jem’s Little Shop of Boom, 2149 E. County Road 67.

This year is the first time owner Nicholas Lockhart has opened a shop of his own; for the past decade, he’s helped with his in-law’s fireworks store.

Over that time, he said he hasn’t seen many changes in fireworks; after all, fireworks were first created in China more than 1,000 years ago.

“The bigger the bang the more we sell, that’s really all there is to it,” Lockhart said.

Walking into most fireworks shops, though, one could be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the sheer number of ways to make a boom.

Richie Detling, who owns Richie’s Fireworks on County Road 67 in Chesterfield, has been selling fireworks for about 15 years.

He said there are three types of customers: a family looking to entertain the kids before they go to a big show, people looking to set off a show for friends and neighbors in the back yard and what he calls the “backyard shooter,” someone willing to spend a few hundred dollars to go all out.

For the family, Detling recommends a grab bag of sparklers, firecrackers and a couple of small fountains. For a family with two young kids to entertain for an hour before or after a big show, it can cost about $25.

For groups of friends or families who are looking to celebrate together, Detling suggests to pool resources instead of each person going to a store separately. If five or six people each contribute $20 and buy things together, they are able to get far more for their money than if each person tried to buy just $20 worth.

He also encouraged people to think twice about deals that offer several “free” fireworks with purchase of one. Take a particular small fountain for example, he said.

“Yeah, that’s fun and all but you don’t need five of them,” he said.

As a former law-enforcement officer, Detling also encourages people to be safe when shooting off fireworks by making sure there is plenty of room to shoot them off and treating fireworks with care.

“If you use common sense and realize what you’re messing with, you usually will be all right,” he said.

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What we spend

A snapshot of what consumers have spent on fireworks annually since 1998. The bulk of that spending has come in the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July

. 1998: $284 million

. 2000: $407 million

. 2005: $587 million

. 2010: $636 million

. 2015: $755 million

Source: Amercian Pyrotechnics Association

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Safety recomendations

. Fireworks cannot be sold to or purchased by anyone younger than 18.? . Check packages and labels to make sure only 1.4G consumer fireworks are purchased; any other types of fireworks are illegal for consumer sales or purchases in Indiana, and may be more explosive.

. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.

. Be sure fireworks are out of the reach of children.

. Consider buying glow sticks instead of sparklers for children - sparklers can burn at temperatures high enough to melt glass.

Source: Indiana Department of Homeland Security

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Source: The (Anderson) Herald-Bulletin, https://bit.ly/29kxB21

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Information from: The Herald Bulletin, https://www.theheraldbulletin.com

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