|Russ Rhea, TateAustin
For Immediate Release
Austin, Texas - December 25, 2003 - Fireworks retailers across Texas are urging consumers to celebrate the New Year safely, particularly in parts of the state experiencing drought conditions. The Texas Pyrotechnic Association (TPA), the state's largest industry association, is expanding its safety campaign. Many fireworks retailers are launching their most ambitious effort ever to make sure the safety message reaches customers.
In addition to safety literature distributed at thousands of retail outlets, public service announcements and billboards, many fireworks vendors have launched new safety efforts.
More than 100 fireworks vendors in the Houston area participated in safety training workshops with the fire marshal. In San Antonio, several free, fireworks safety seminars will be held the week of New Year's for the public. Additionally, many fireworks retailers are increasing signage with safety messages and including fireworks safety tips in print advertising.
Fireworks safety products are also available. The products include protective eye goggles, special boxes to protect fireworks from errant sparks and special launch pads for rockets and star shells.
"Safety is the number one priority for fireworks retailers," says Chester Davis, President of the Texas Pyrotechnic Association. "We must continue to teach the safe use of the pyrotechnics, so the industry in Texas can continue to thrive and people can continue to celebrate the holidays with fireworks."
Since 1976, when the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission initiated the current federal standards for consumer fireworks, the fireworks-related injury rate has fallen by 88%, setting a 26-year low. Amazingly, this has occurred while fireworks usage has skyrocketed during the same time period. Fireworks usage has increased six fold
from 29 million pounds in 1976 to over 190 million pounds in 2002, whereas the injury
rate has dramatically dropped from 38.3 injuries per 100,000 pound of fireworks to 4.6 injuries per 100,000 pounds of fireworks.
In Texas, fires caused by fireworks are down significantly. According to a recently released report by the State Fire Marshal's Office, fireworks caused 365 fires in 2002, down 42% from 2001. Fireworks-related fires accounted for less than .05 % of the nearly 1,000,000 fires reported in Texas in 2002.
The Texas Pyrotechnic Association credits the decline in injuries and fires to efforts by the industry, which include actively promoting safety and working to ensure adherence to the strict safety regulations for manufacturing, storage, transportation, and use.
In addition to safety, the TPA encourages people celebrating the New Year with fireworks to be courteous. "Safety is a must. Being considerate to others is also important," says Davis. "New Year's will be more enjoyable for everyone by being safe, smart and responsible with fireworks."
People can visit www.texasfireworkssafety.com for safety information and a list of counties that have restricted some aerial fireworks because of drought conditions.
Licensed retailers are assigned responsibility to encourage consumers to follow these basic safety guidelines:
- Buy fireworks only from licensed retail outlets
- Follow directions carefully - with close adult supervision
- Never experiment with homemade or altered fireworks
- Use fireworks outdoors, in a safe area away from dry grass and buildings
- Before you enjoy fireworks, get permission from the property owner
- Keep a bucket of water, wet towels and a garden hose nearby
- Light one firework at a time - then move back quickly
- Never shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket
- Dispose of used fireworks in a bucket of water
Fireworks stores and stands opened for business on December 20th in Texas and will remain open until midnight on the 31st.
About Texas Pyrotechnic Association
The Texas Pyrotechnic Association promotes the safe and proper use of fireworks. Since most incidents occur as a result of misuse and abuse, TPA focuses on promoting the most effective way to reduce these incidents: concentrating on raising safety awareness. Every year, the TPA provides fireworks safety guidelines to more than 5,000 firework vendor stands throughout the state for distribution to consumers.