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July 4th: Celebrate Independence Day with Standards!

Each year on the fourth of July, millions of patriotic Americans celebrate the founding of their country by taking part in a wide variety of events and traditional activities marking Independence Day. And whether you're enjoying a low-key family barbecue or taking in the red glare given off by a municipal fireworks display, voluntary consensus standards help make your holiday safe and enjoyable.

Although fireworks are unquestionably an iconic part of Independence Day, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and audited designator the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) cautions against consumer fireworks, due to the significant risk of serious injury. Instead, NFPA recommends attending public fireworks shows overseen by qualified professionals. Two NFPA standards provide guidelines intended to safeguard everyone who works with fireworks or attends these types of events. NFPA 1123-2010, NFPA 1123: Code for Fireworks Display, 2010 Edition, sets down safety requirements related to the safe carrying out of an event centered around fireworks, providing display operators, venue managers, and other professionals with essential safety guidance. NFPA 1124-2013, Code for the Manufacture, Transportation, Storage, and Retail Sales of Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles, 2013 Edition, on the other hand, provides safety guidelines for fireworks beginning with their creation and extending through the shipping, storage, and sale of these pyrotechnics.

While fireworks may be the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of Independence Day, no celebration of July 4th is complete without a holiday meal - usually involving some outdoor grilling. A standard from ANSI member and audited designator ASTM International provides information related to the use of barbecue cylinders, among other fuel storage devices. ASTM D6849-02(2012), Standard Practice for Storage and Use of Liquefied Petroleum Gases (LPG) in Sample Cylinders for LPG Test Methods, covers standard storage cylinders, particularly those regularly used as a quality control reference for LPG test methods.

Grilling can really bring out the flavor in burgers, steaks, and even tofu dogs, but not everything consumed during a holiday barbecue can or should be grilled. And while most of that food will likely be free from harmful microorganisms and other pests, Independence Day is hard to enjoy if you're suffering from food poisoning. Thankfully, International Standard ISO 14470:2011, Food irradiation - Requirements for the development, validation and routine control of the process of irradiation using ionizing radiation for the treatment of food, provides guidance on the minimum necessary measures for the routine irradiation of food using x-ray generators, electron beams, or some types of radionuclides. The standard was developed by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 34, Food products; ANSI member the American Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS) serves as the ANSI-accredited administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 34.

One standby of Independence Day is the widespread display of American flags - on flagpoles, carried in parades, even reproduced on t-shirts and towels. ANSI/NAAMM FP 1001-2007, Guide Specifications for Design of Metal Flagpoles, sets down a method to determine the appropriate size of a given flagpole in light of wind speed, pole material, flag size, and other relevant factors, making it easier to showcase your stars and stripes. The standard was developed by the National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers (NAMM), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

While voluntary consensus standards can't grill your celebratory hot dog or raise your American flag up the flagpole, they do play an important role in assisting those activities and many more, helping to make the Independence Day holiday a safe and enjoyable one.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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