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Fireworks safety crucial for a happy Fourth of July

While the fireworks-related injury numbers are down approximately 9 percent and use of consumer fireworks is up by more than 59 percent over the last 20 years, it is still vital that consumers use the utmost caution with the products.

Consumer fireworks are truly safer today than ever before, and today’s smarter buying public uses the products carefully and with good common sense resulting in more use of consumer fireworks and fewer injuries.

Americans understand the importance of buying consumer fireworks only from licensed dealers and to avoid the pitfalls of buying overloaded, black market illegal explosives that are dangerous and can be lethal.

Phantom Fireworks is a charter member of the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory, which conducts testing of consumer fireworks in China for compliance with U.S. manufacturing and performance standards as regulated by the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission. Once the products are received at the Phantom Fireworks warehouse in the U.S., the products are retested for performance.

When you factor in use to the injury statistics, the improvement in fireworks-related injuries is very impressive.

Based on injuries measured per 100,000 pounds of imported fireworks, there has been a remarkable 42.9 percent reduction in injuries from 10.7 per 100,000 pounds in 1994 to 6.1 per 100,000 pounds in 2013.

If we work diligently on the safety message and are able to get people to follow the safety rules, we can improve the fireworks-related safety record and reduce injuries even further.

The cardinal safety rule is to use COMMON SENSE. Some of the primary fireworks safety tips include:

■ Never allow children to handle fireworks. Only sober adults should handle and ignite the fireworks. A designated shooter, like a designated driver, should be the one in charge of the fireworks.

■ Use in a clear, open space, free from debris and combustibles. Shoot on a hard, flat surface. Keep your audience a safe distance from your launch site and fallout zones. A minimum safe distance should be 30 feet for ground-based items.

■ Have a ready source of water close by. A connected hose is best, but a bucket of water or fire extinguisher will do. Someone should act as the fireman – someone to visually track the burning projectiles down to make sure nothing comes down hot.

■ Do not relight duds. Follow all laws. Use a long-neck butane lighter, punk or Phantom Pyro torch to light the fireworks. Never put any part of your body over a firework or in its travel path.

For a complete list of all of Phantom’s recommended fireworks safety tips, visit the “Fireworks University” section of www.fireworks.com at https://www.fireworks.com/fireworks-university/fireworks-safety-tips/.

Let’s continue the great American tradition envisioned by John Adams of celebrating with fireworks when the then-future president wrote in a letter to his wife Abigail 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 the other, from this day forward and forevermore.”

Please enjoy the Independence Day holiday with your family and celebrate safely.

William A. Weimer is vice president and general counsel for Youngstown, Ohio-based B.J. Alan Co., owner of Phantom Fireworks.

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