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 talking about fireworks safety. Now that we found our perfect spot, to use fireworks, I am going to cover with you some important safety tips to help you get your site ready for proper use of fireworks. First of all, as you can see we have plenty of distance here; we have put all of the fireworks that we are going to discharge off to one side. We have got our bucket of water handy and just as important a good working garden hose. It is perfect for extinguishing any sparklers or left over fireworks, once you have used them the garden hose is great just in case there is a mishap. We also have our safety glasses so that we are prepared when we are going to light the fireworks.
So, just a few steps for you to keep in mind as you prepare your area to actually enjoy celebrating with fireworks. Couple of other factors you need to be aware of is with your spectators you want to keep them at a safe distance, since we are going to use some cones and fountains today such as these devices; we need at least a minimum of 25 feet to keep our spectators safe. If you live in an area that allows you to use a larger, aerial fireworks, you want to make certain that you are at least 40 feet, provide 40 feet for your spectators. If children are going to be in the area, I highly recommend and this comes from my heart as a mother, never let young children handle fireworks, even sparklers can be dangerous if they are improperly handled. They are designed to burn at very high temperatures and they can easily ignite clothing, if the child is not careful or if they are careless. Another step to keep in mind is teenagers, what we all know that teenagers like to be adventurous and they take plenty of risk. It is very important if you are going to let your teenagers light the fuses that you sit and sound, discuss safety with them and let them know that fireworks are serious business. That will help insure that they can have a safe and happy celebration with fireworks.