Fireworks SafetyEditor: You have been duped by...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Fireworks Safety

Editor: You have been duped by the National Fire Protection Association into printing an inaccurate editorial that adversely relects upon the legitimate consumer fireworks industry in Maryland and the United States.

The most serious error is the statement that "last year hospitals handled 12,800 fireworks-related injuries, a 28 percent increase over 1989."

Fireworks-related injury reports are monitored by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the NFPA uses these estimates. For 1990, the commission's estimate, based on some 150 actual injury reports, was approximately 12,400 fireworks-related injuries.

The commission changed its method of calculating injury estimates between 1989 and 1990, resulting in an across-the-board increase of injury estimates. Because of this change, the commission strongly warned in all of its 1990 injury study reports that persons should not attempt to make comparisons between the 1990 data and estimates for prior years. The commission's chairman, in an effort to clarify this matter, stated during a press conference in Washington last week that the 1990 fireworks estimate "does not represent a change over previous years."

Today's consumer fireworks are far safer than devices that were available to the public in 1941, when Maryland banned consumer fireworks. The injury rate (injuries per million pounds of fireworks discharged) has been cut in half over the past decade, largely through better consumer awareness. The "menaces" mentioned in your editorial -- the quarter-sticks and "M-80s" -- are banned nationally, but illegal manufacture and distribution continues.

Consumers should avoid any fireworks device that does not beaa manufacturer's name and cautionary labeling. Illegal and unlabelled explosives are the devices that can kill or maim you.

Sparklers are legal in most of Maryland and can be safely enjoyed by families if a few precautions are taken. Close adult supervision is most important, and we urge that consumers keep a bucket of water in the backyard to place the sparkler wires in when the devices finish burning.

John A. Conkling.

Chestertown.

The writer is executive director of the American Pyrotechnics

Association.

Retirements

Editor: In regard to the State of Maryland budget restraints and proposed reductions in force: Would not voluntary early retirements (through incentives) be preferable to involuntary lay-offs?

This plan has been utilized in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

J. F. Lechman.

Seabrook.

Americans

Editor: What practical purpose is served in labeling a person as an Asian-American, African-American, Hispanic-American, Italian-American or any one of the other dual-titles popular today?

Since the very beginning of this nation every American has stemmed from another race or nationality. What a scenario it would create if they all demanded special recognition!

It's like being a "little pregnant." Either you is or you ain't!

Elizabeth Myers.

Baltimore.

Road Blocks

Editor: With so many things in need of fixing, why is the mayor's office trying to wreck something that is working just fine?

The Baltimore Road Runners Club organizes and administers road races throughout the year for members and non-members. The races include the Constellation Classic, St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Ladies Classic (formerly the Lady Equitable).

This non-profit organization donates thousands of dollars from the proceeds to support the restoration of the U.S.F. Constellation, Baltimore Reads program, the Baltimore Zoo and the St. Patrick's Parade. There are many other charities besides these few.

The lack of cooperation from Mayor Schmoke's office has included:

* Refusal to allow the Constellation Classic (10K) to run along Pratt Street to Canton. The city preferred running it up Calvert Street to 31st Street and back on St. Paul Street. Hence, you split the city in half, causing inconvenience to many waiting motorists.

* Rejecting the permit request of the Maryland Marathon and causing the cancellation of our only state-sanctioned marathon race.

* Threatening the Constellation Classic with a route that is too small to support the 3,000-plus runners. When the BRRC protested, the organization was advised it could take the race to Baltimore County.

These are just some examples.

The reasons given by the mayor's office are trivial and disconcerting. The cost factor is nominal if an appropriation is made from the entrance fee.

The former mayor proclaimed, "Do it now." The attitude of those representing Mayor Schmoke is "Don't do it at all."

James R. Considine.

Baltimore.

After the Fire

Editor: On Memorial Day, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Maryland Chapter, survived a devastating six-alarm fire in our Central Office in the Hillendale Square Building in Towson.

It took 117 firefighters from 23 fire stations over three hours to extinguish the blaze. Damage was extensive. Because of the bravery and skill of these firefighters, however, we were able to salvage all of our client records and program materials that enabled us to continue client services without interruption.

Since that date, we have received many offers of help from our families, friends and business partners in the community, for which we are extremely grateful. We are also very appreciative of the donations of good-condition medical equipment for use by our clients and we welcome any additional support from individuals, organizations or businesses wishing to make a donation.

It is indeed heart-warming and gratifying to know that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Maryland Chapter, has such widespread support.

Thanks to the caring of others, we can continue to sponsor events and provide programs and counseling in support of over 2,400 clients and their families served by our society.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Baltimore County Fire Department.

Jane Tamburo.

Towson.

The writer is chair of the Maryland chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Saddam's 'Mother'

Editor: Most assuredly the prize for an inaccurate piece of overblown rhetoric must go to Saddam Hussein's characterization of the anticipated military confrontation in the Persian Gulf as "the mother of all battles".

What is most surprising and troubling is the proliferaton of Saddam's cornball concoction by so many members of our print and electronics media who, presumably, should know better and should exhibit better taste in their use of the English language.

My proposal is this:

For a first time user-offender of "the mother of all (you name it)," a warning should be given to the slow-witted admirer of Saddam's creation; for a second offense, the author should be shot on the spot. That would afford some compensation for Saddam's having survived both the war and his own messed metaphor.

John O. Herrmann. Baltimore.

AIDS Notification

Editor: It amazes me that there is a debate on whether there should be mandatory testing, notifying of patients and admitting of AIDS carrying immigrants into this country.

If you were a carrier of a transmitted disease in the past in which the disease and prevention of its spread were more important than the privacy of the carrier, you were asked who your contacts were, and they were subsequently notified that they might have been exposed. Aside from sexually transmitted diseases, such illnesses included TB, hepatitis, etc.

In the health field, it's of dire importance to be tested. If found to be a carrier of any communicable disease those whom you treat should be notified. It is a moral obligation. The innocent victims of such uncaring medical personnel, such as the dentist in Florida who infected at least five patients with AIDS, have a right to live a life protected by laws to prevent such inhumane treatment by someone they trusted. The dentist did not notify anyone, in order to protect his practice and its sale value. This is a prime example of those who knowingly are exposing all of us to a fate we can do nothing to prevent because his or her rights to privacy are more important then our rights to safe medical care. Again the innocent victims must suffer for the selfish unethical practices of so-called professionals.

We are bombarded by the media with news of medical transmission to such victims as Kimberly Bergalis in Florida and Ryan White who died last year from AIDS transmitted through blood transfusions. Still, there are so many more and yet our cause is not heard. We must demand testing. We must demand disclosure. We must demand that innocent patients of the medical world not be exposed to a deadly disease. We must demand that those with such diseases not be allowed to enter this country until a cure is found.

Our elected officials should return control of this country to those whose rights are being violated, those who are the victims. Victims of unsafe health practices. Victims of crime. Victims of unethical business practices, such as the bailout of S&Ls; and banks. We do not have a lobby. Our elected representatives should be that lobby. Let us demand they start protecting our rights.

Lois Munchel.

Baltimore.

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