Fireworks safety

Dear Editor:With consumer fireworks now more popular than ever in California, it is important that we use common sense, recognize that fireworks essentially function via a controlled burn, and follow the safety tips to ensure a safe and wonderful experience celebrating America's freedom. Consumer fireworks are actually safer today than ever before. Since 1994, the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory has been testing fireworks in China for compliance with U.S. manufacturing and performance standards as enforced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In addition, the AFLS's Standards Committee periodically reviews the standards with a view to increasing the safety margins, conducts seminars in China on quality control, and makes on-site factory visits to improve the manufacturing process. The CPSC, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the American Pyrotechnics Association, and the National Council on Fireworks Safety all sponsor public relations initiatives and press conferences aimed at promoting fireworks safety and warning against the use of illegal explosives. Phantom Fireworks even conducts free classes on how to use consumer fireworks safely. All these efforts have combined to produce better products and smart and safe American fireworks users, resulting in an amazing record in reducing the number of fireworks-related injuries. In 1994 we imported 117 million pounds of fireworks, and CPSC reported 12,500 fireworks-related injuries in the U.S. By 2010, our fireworks imports grew over 75 percent to 205.9 million pounds, but the number of fireworks-related injuries dropped by over 31 percent to 8,600. We can maintain and improve this safety record with consumer fireworks by following the basic rules on consumer fireworks use. First and foremost - use common sense. The fireworks must burn to function, and you must take all necessary precautions to avoid incidents. Some of the basic fireworks safety rules include: Never allow children to handle fireworks. Only sober adults should handle and ignite the fireworks. Use in a clear, open space. Shoot on a hard, flat surface. Keep your audience a safe distance from your lighting site and fallout zones. Have a ready source of water close by. A connected hose is best, but a bucket of water or fire extinguisher will suffice. Do not relight duds. Follow your local laws. Use a long-neck butane lighter to light the fireworks. Never put any part of your body over a firework or in its travel path. The fireworks industry is proud of the improving safety record. Americans' love for fireworks was beautifully expressed by (then future) second U.S. President John Adams on July 3, 1776, when he wrote to his wife, Abigail, and proclaimed that Independence Day "ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade...bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore." Let's continue the tradition in America envisioned by John Adams of celebrating our Independence Day with the modern day equivalent of illuminations and bonfires - fireworks and cookouts - and do so safely. Please enjoy the Independence Day holiday with your family and celebrate safely in accordance with the laws of California. William A. Weimer Vice President, Phantom Fireworks

********** Published: June 28, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 11