To the editor:
While consumer fireworks are safer today than ever before, people must still follow the recommended safety rules for use of the products in order to ensure a safe fireworks experience for their entire family.
Organizations such as Phantom Fireworks, the National Council on Fireworks Safety, the American Pyrotechnics Association and others publish guidelines containing simple rules for the use of consumer fireworks that, when followed, will make your use of consumer fireworks safe and enjoyable.
First and foremost, you must exercise good judgment and common sense when buying and using the products. Buy your products from reliable, licensed dealers. Beware of dealers who offer you special products from a back room that are not in compliance with state and federal law. You could subject yourself, your family and your audience to substantial danger when using these products.
The fireworks products should be handled and ignited by a designated shooter — a sober adult who is familiar with fireworks safety rules. Never allow children to handle the products or be in close proximity to them.
Make sure you use a clear, open area as your ignition site and use a hard, flat surface. If you must ignite the products from a grassy or graveled area, lay down a piece of plywood to provide a hard, flat surface.
Make sure your audience is a safe distance from your launch site. Phantom Fireworks recommends a minimum distance between your launch site and your audience of 30 feet for fountains and ground-based products.
It is important that you have a ready source of water available in the event of an emergency. A connected hose is best. If that is unavailable, you should use a fire extinguisher or, at a minimum, a bucket of water.
Light only one firework at a time and make sure that you use a long-neck butane lighter, a punk or a similar extended lighting device to keep you a safe distance from the product when you light it. Never allow any part of your body to be over the device.
You should always make sure that you consider farm animals and pets when you are using fireworks. The noise and lights often frighten animals, so it is important that your animals are indoors or otherwise secured to protect them from adverse exposure to the products.
These are some of the basic tips that Phantom Fireworks hopes its friends and customers will follow. The full list of consumer fireworks safety tips can be found at the Fireworks University section of www.fireworks.com. We urge you to familiarize yourselves with all of the fireworks safety tips and follow them to ensure a safe fireworks experience.
Due to a combination of many factors, fireworks are better and safer than ever. Since 1994, fireworks use has increased some 77 percent from 117,000,00 pounds in 1994 to 207,500,000 pounds in 2012. In the same period, injuries have decreased more than 30 percent — from 12,500 in 1994 to 8,700 in 2012.
If we continue to work diligently on the safety message and people continue to follow the safety rules, we can improve the fireworks-related safety record and reduce injuries even further.
Let’s continue with the great American tradition envisioned by John Adams of celebrating with fireworks when he wrote in 1776 that the Independence Day holiday “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to another, from this day forward forevermore.”
Enjoy the Independence Day holiday with your family and celebrate safely.
William A. Weimer
Vice president, Phantom Fireworks