Standard Deviations: Fireworks recall? Maybe don’t admit they make a bigger bang
I get the feeling that every once in awhile the government misses the whole point of issuing a product recall.
This is one of those times.
Just in time for the Fourth of July holiday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Wednesday announced four separate recalls of fireworks sold in the United States. The recall involved about 38,000 individual fireworks, manufactured in China, that were sold at two stores in Michigan, one in Indiana, and a small chain in Pennsylvania.
Consumers are instructed to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.
Don’t get me wrong. Usually, CPSC-announced recalls make perfect sense. Indeed, the other CPSC recalls during the past week have been totally understandable:
• Dolan Northwest chandeliers. These lights are being recalled due to “impact and laceration hazards.” The top loop of the light fixture can bend and break, causing the chandelier to fall. The remedy? “Consumers should prevent people from going into the immediate area underneath the chandelier.” Oh yes, and contact the company for a free repair.
• Gillette Venus Simply3 disposable razors. The razors are being recalled due to laceration and injury hazards. A problem during manufacturing resulted in a “misalignment of the blades in the razors, posing a higher risk of cuts during normal use.”
• QTOP USA LED replacement bulbs. The bulb can overheat due to an electrical malfunction, posing a fire hazard.
All three of those recalls will send consumers scrambling to return the products to the manufacturer. Mostly, because nobody wants to be crushed by a falling chandelier, or bleed out from a faulty razor blade, or burn up in a house fire.
But the four fireworks recalls announced on Wednesday? Honestly, who on earth would heed those?
Grandma’s Fireworks, GS Fireworks, Patriot Pyrotechnics/Bill’s Fireworks, and Keystone Fireworks have issued the most recent recall for — get this — fireworks that were “overloaded with pyrotechnics.”
And just in case consumers don’t understand what that means, the CPSC explains that the overloaded fireworks “can result in a greater than expected explosion, posing explosion and burn hazards to consumers.”
Frankly, they had America at “greater than expected explosion.”
All fireworks present explosion and burn hazards. That’s why they call them fireworks. So telling consumers that they may have purchased pyrotechnics that are even more powerful (read: spectacularly explosive) than they’d expected? That’s not really going to encourage people to cough up their fireworks for a full refund.
The CPSC might want to rethink the reason for these particular recalls, perhaps warning consumers that the overloaded fireworks are actually powerful enough to rip a hole in the space-time continuum and thus return us back to a time when a Democrat was in the White House.
And as long as we’re on the subject, I may as well take this opportunity offer my traditional rant against fireworks — or what many patriotic Americans have labeled “Professor Funhater’s Annual Buzzkill Column on the Dangerous, Inconsiderate and Environmentally Irresponsible Use of Fireworks.” Every July for at least the last 10 years, and possibly longer, I’ve spent at least one column trying to spread my message of the evils associated with this particularly harmful holiday ritual.
I’m not saying fireworks should be illegal, especially not at a time of year when we’re celebrating freedom, after all. But I am saying that I place fireworks in the same category as, say, smoking. And like cigarettes, while I get that the participant believes he or she is getting something of immense personal value from a fireworks display, it just doesn’t seem worth the damaging side effects.
Knowing the dangers of the habit — to life and limb, to the environment, to pets and even some of the veterans we honor at this time of the year — it just seems somewhat irresponsible and completely unnecessary.
Of course, if you simply must have something really dangerous to do in order to celebrate America’s independence, you could always just go stand under one of those recalled chandeliers.