Julie HeckmanJulie L. Heckman is the Executive Director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, the leading trade association of the fireworks industry in the United States. Julie directs the overall regulatory affairs of the APA, including the Association’s Safety Program. She is frequently cited in the media (doing some 300 interviews a year) relating to her expertise in fireworks safety, consumer products and hazardous materials regulations as well as other fireworks-related issues. Julie has spent nearly 20 years in the fireworks industry. She has traveled internationally to Canada, Hong Kong, China, Italy, Japan, Germany and Spain to share her passion for fireworks and expertise with other fireworks organizations and industry leaders. As a professional and a mother, her passion has been focused in recent years in advocating the safe use of fireworks especially when children are present. She believes all fireworks injuries are preventable and the injuries that do occur are related to carelessness, misuse or lack of parental supervision. Julie received her Bachelors degree in Paralegal Studies from the College of Mt. St. Joseph, Cincinnati, OH. She lives and works in Bethesda, Maryland.
Julie Heckman: Hi! I am Julie Heckman, Executive Director of the American Pyrotechnics Association. Today, we are discussing fireworks safety. Now, I am going to show you how to choose the proper area to use your backyard fireworks. If you are blessed with a big back beautiful yard like this one; there is a few things you need to know. Right now, this backyard is not proper for using fireworks. Take a look at the grass; they haven't had much rainfall here and the grass is very dry and brittle. This is a very poor environment for using fireworks, since they are designed to burn. Another factor you have to keep in mind is whether you have dry shrubs, if you have any low -hanging tree limbs or even if you have power lines overhead. One more factor is to analyze do you have household combustibles nearby. Here is a propane tank; this does not mix well with fireworks. That's just one more reason why I wouldn't recommend this backyard and we are not done yet, stability is very important. You need to use your fireworks on a flat level surface. Again when we look at this grass, it is not very flat and it is not very leveled and in fact it would be risky venue to choose to use fireworks because it will put your spectators in risk.
Now, assume this backyard was beautiful green, had been blessed with lots of rain during the past month and you wanted to use fireworks here. My primary recommendation would be, to put down a sturdy piece of plywood to level out the area so that when you fire these devices they will remain stable and keep your spectators safe. Now, like I mentioned this backyard isn't appropriate because of the dry conditions and the dry grass and the lack of stability. But if you follow me I am going to take you to an area that will be good. Now, I am going to explain to you why this is a much better place to use your fireworks, for example any driveway, cul de sac, or a nice neighborly street provide an excellent venue for discharging fireworks.
We have got plenty of open, flat leveled surface so when we place our items on the ground, we have eliminated the risk of tip over. We have also been able to avoid all that dry grass and the shrubs, in addition we don't have to worry about power lines here; we have got plenty of open space which also lets us consider where we can put our spectators. Next we are going to talk about how to actually set up and discharge those fireworks safely.