updated 6/23/2011 9:46:12 AM ET 2011-06-23T13:46:12

RALEIGH, N.C., June 23, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As North Carolinians plan their patriotic celebrations this summer, experts urge consumers to consider safety this Independence Day.

"Sparkling devices and novelties are integral to any Fourth of July celebration, and Americans enjoy the tradition of lighting them to make the festivities brighter," says Tommy Glasgow, president of TNT® Fireworks East. TNT Fireworks is the largest distributor of consumer fireworks and sparklers in the United States and has been in the business for more than 50 years. "As North Carolinians light up the night this Independence Day, TNT encourages safety for a safe and sane Fourth of July."

Nationally, fireworks consumption increased 635 percent between 1976 and 2008 [1] (29.0 million pounds versus 213.2 million pounds respectively), while fireworks-related injuries decreased dramatically from 38.3 injuries to 3.3 injuries per 100,000 pounds of fireworks during that same time period, according to the most recent data available from the American Pyrotechnics Association.

John Conkling, a nationally renowned fireworks expert and spokesman for the American Pyrotechnics Association, attributes the steep decline in injuries over the years to the fireworks industry's consumer safety and education initiatives during the last three decades.

Despite the decline in injuries, however, Conkling says consumers should resolve to use only devices permitted by state law while adhering to safety warnings and instructions that appear on product packaging.

"For decades, sparkling devices and novelties have enhanced countless celebrations. To continue the downward trend in fireworks-related injuries, though, consumers must prioritize safety and have a general understanding of how these devices function," Conkling says. "Following a few simple guidelines – such as only using sparkling devices and novelties outdoors in clear areas away from buildings and dry grass and always keeping a bucket of water on hand for emergencies – will help people stay safe."

While consumers consider which products will add the most sparkle to their Fourth of July celebrations, Conkling recommends they check the credibility of the distributor to make sure its products are reliable and come from a credible source.

"Not all sparkling devices and novelties are the same," Conkling says, "and consumers should purchase only legal products that are distributed by a trusted, established company, like TNT Fireworks, that puts people and safety above all else."

Here are a few sparkling devices and novelties safety tips to consider this Fourth of July.

Adult Supervision. In North Carolina, no one younger than 16 can purchase sparkling devices and novelties. Adults should always be present when lighting or handling fireworks. Never allow young children to light or handle them.

Look for Labels and Read the Instructions. Instructions and warnings are required by law. Check the credibility of the distributor to make sure their sparkling devices and novelties are reliable, legal and that they come from a licensed source.

Stay Alert. Never mix alcohol or other substances with sparkling devices and novelties.

Take Precautions. Always keep a hose and a bucket of water nearby in case of emergencies.

Outdoors Only. Use sparkling devices and novelties outdoors, only in clear areas, away from houses, buildings and dry grass. Be sure to use them only on flat hard surfaces.

Let Sleeping Sparklers Lie. Don't try to relight sparkling devices and novelties that don't ignite. Wait 15 to 20 minutes, then douse and soak them with water and throw them away.

Protect Your Pets. Animals are often frightened by the sounds of sparkling devices and novelties. To protect your "best friends," keep them indoors — away from the loud noise — and secure.

Keep Clear. Never hold a lit sparkling device or novelty item in your hand. Keep as far from sparkling devices and novelties as possible when lighting.

One at a Time. Light only one sparkling device or novelty at a time.

Obey All Laws. Please obey North Carolina state laws regarding the use of sparkling devices and novelties.

TNT sparkling devices and novelties will be available through July 4 at numerous major retailers, as well as stand and tent sale locations throughout North Carolina. For more safety information, or to find a location where TNT products are sold in North Carolina, visit www.TNTFireworks.com.

[1] Consumption per million pounds

ABOUT TNT FIREWORKS

TNT® Fireworks (TNT) is the nation's largest distributor of consumer fireworks and sparklers. For more than 50 years, TNT has set the benchmark for safety, customer satisfaction, innovation and quality in the fireworks industry. For more information about TNT Fireworks, visit www.tntfireworks.com.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN PYROTECHNICS ASSOCIATION

The APA is the leading trade association of the fireworks industry. The APA supports and promotes safety standards for all aspects of fireworks. The APA has diverse membership including regulated and licensed manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, importers and suppliers of fireworks. Additional information about the fireworks industry, facts & figures, history of fireworks, state laws, and safety tips can be found on APA's website at www.americanpyro.com .

www.tntfireworks.com


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