More products are being imported to the US from China than ever before – but a series of scares has left some wondering whether they are safe.
From pet food to toothpaste, tyres to jewellery and seafood to toys, questions have been raised over the reliability of Chinese-made goods.
A lesson may lie in the approach taken by the fireworks industry, which has focused on education and stringent product testing within China.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, standards for Chinese-made fireworks were so low that as many as 75% failed US safety tests.
To tackle the problem, US importers were encouraged to pay for a testing operation set up in China – the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory (AFSL) – to monitor production straight from the assembly line. Click to read the full story.
When buying fireworks, make sure they comply with BS 7114 and are clearly marked for their intended use “Indoor, Garden or Display”.
Fireworks complying with the BS 7114 are limited as to the explosive content, have recommended safe distances for viewing them and have strict times for how long the fuse will burn to enable people to move out of the way.
The Firework Code
Keep fireworks in a sealed box or tin
Use them one at a time, replacing the lid immediately
NEVER put fireworks in your pocket
Read the instructions carefully, using a torch or hand lamp
NEVER use a naked flame
Light fireworks at arms length using a taper or a firework lighter
Stand well back and NEVER return to a firework after it has been lit, it could explode in your face
Ensure that all children with fireworks are well supervised
NEVER throw fireworks
Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
Keep all pets and animals indoors
Take care with sparklers, wear gloves to hold them and dispose of sparklers in a bucket of water as soon as they are finished.
It is an offence (punishable by fine) to let fireworks off in a public place.
It is also an offence (also punishable by fine) for anyone under the age of 18 to be in possession of a firework (other than a sparkler) in a public place.
A public place is anywhere other than your back garden, and includes streets, parks and playgrounds – in fact any place members of the public have access to at the time, whether or not an admission fee is payable.
It is illegal to let fireworks off during night hours (11pm to 7am), except on Bonfire Night (until midnight), Diwali, New Year, and Chinese New Year (until 1am).
It is illegal for shopkeepers to break open retail packets of fireworks and sell them individually. This is because the instructions are printed on the packet and not on the individual fireworks.
Pets get very frightened on fireworks night, so keep all your pets indoors and close all the curtains to make things calmer. Remember it’s not just your own fireworks that cause distress, so you may have to have your pets indoors on several nights when other displays are taking place.