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With many Chattanooga-area fireworks displays canceled to prevent large crowds from gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic, retail sales of firecrackers are skyrocketing in the Chattanooga area and nationwide as more people move their July Fourth celebrations to the backyard.

Retail sales at Fireworks Supermarkets — a nationwide retailer with five stores in Tennessee, including Cleveland and Jasper locations near Chattanooga — have at least doubled in 2020 compared to previous years, according to company President Mike Ingram.

"The sales and the total number of customers coming into all of our retail stores clear across the country has greatly increased from last year," Ingram said. "Whether everybody has come out early and the customer count will be off on the third and fourth of July is yet to be determined. This is a crazy year, so it's hard to predict anything."

(READ MORE: Where to see fireworks in the Chattanooga area this weekend)

Ingram, also president of fireworks import and wholesale company Fireworks Over America, reports that most wholesalers the company works with have sold or are in the process of selling most of the total product that they imported for the season.

Michael Jackson, assistant manager at TNT Fireworks Supercenter in East Ridge, said he estimates the store's sales have increased by 30-40% over last year.

"More people are coming in, and they're buying more," Jackson said.

Dixieland Fireworks, also in East Ridge, had a very successful Memorial Day this year and has seen a consistent flow of customers ever since, owner Keesha Woodard said.

"Since a lot of people are not having the big fireworks shows, people are just having their own at home, so we are seeing some increase in sales, and an early increase in sales," Woodard said. "I think people are just avoiding the crowds and just coming in and shopping and shooting fireworks with their families."

With more amateurs doing their own pyrotechnic displays at home this year, Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Amy Maxwell urges residents of municipalities and unincorporated areas of the county where shooting fireworks is legal to keep the following safety tips in mind:

* 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 fireworks indoors

* Only use 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

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.

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