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Standards (and Good Sense) Keep Fireworks Safe for Independence Day Celebrations

New York, Jul 03, 2003

This year, Americans are celebrating and honoring Independence Day with a renewed sense of pride and patriotism, and consumer fireworks retailers across the country have the skyrocketing sales to prove it. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) along with the National Council of Fireworks Safety (NCSF) urges caution when using these dangerous, explosive products.

“The truly American tradition of celebrating with fireworks on the Fourth of July will be stronger than ever this year,” says Ann Crampton, spokesperson for the NCFS. “But with record numbers expected, the need for safety becomes critical.”

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), fireworks use has more than doubled since 1990, from 67.6 million pounds to over 190 million pounds in 2002. During the same time period, fireworks-related injuries have declined by almost 75 percent from 38.3 injuries per 100,000 pounds of fireworks to 4.6 injuries per 100,000 pounds. Legal fireworks are safer than ever because of the strict federal regulations enacted by the CPSC in 1976.

Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the APA, attributes the decline in injuries to recent efforts by the industry to promote safety and ensure that manufacturers and consumers abide by all regulations for the manufacturing, storage, transportation and use of fireworks. Heckman says, “today’s fireworks are the highest quality, safest and most spectacular ever made.”

For public fireworks displays, which is the safest way to experience fireworks this Fourth of July, standardization is key to ensuring the public’s well being. ANSI/NFPA 1123-2000, Public Display of Fireworks, written by the National Fire Protection Association, applies to the construction, handling and use of fireworks intended solely for public display. It also applies to the general conduct and operation of the display. ANSI/NFPA 1124-2003, Manufacture, Transportation and Storage of Fireworks, outlines the guidelines for the manufacture, transportation and storage of fireworks.

The CPSC requires that legal fireworks have the name of the item, the name of the manufacturer or distributor and easy-to-read cautionary labeling and instructions clearly visible on the packaging. Consumer fireworks are now legal in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

Illegal fireworks include cherry bombs, silver salutes and M80s. Even though they have been banned since 1996, these illegal fireworks account for one-third of all Fourth of July injuries. For more information on your state’s laws regarding fireworks and fireworks displays, click here.

“Regardless of whether this is someone’s first time attending a public display in years or just a few months, we all have a responsibility to help make Independence Day celebrations safe and enjoyable for everyone,” said Heckman.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends the following safety tips to help ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday:

· Always read and follow label directions
· Have an adult supervise all fireworks activities
· Buy from reliable sources
· Ignite outdoors, away from buildings and vehicles
· Keep a bucket of water handy
· Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks
· Light fireworks one at a time
· Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks
· Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
· Never throw fireworks at another person
· Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers
· Eye protection should always be worn by the fireworks shooter
· No part of the shooter's body should be over the firework

“By adhering to these practical, common sense safety tips,” says Heckman, “we can make this year’s holiday the safer than ever.”

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