WHY CONSUMERS NEED TO BE CO-RESPONSIBLE!
By: Delores Lekowski

Since the events of September 11 the world has changed, and so have our
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lives. We can no longer assume that others will be able to ensure our safety. We have to believe that our Government will do everything in its power to keep us safe. But we need to take an active part in our own safety. In other words, we need to become co-responsible.

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As we have been told, we need to be more vigilant, and aware of our surroundings. These surroundings include the products that we have in our homes. If a manufacturer advertised a product that could become a fire hazard, (I am talking about a product that you would never suspect as being dangerous, a product that shouldn't be prone to catching fire) would you buy it and put it in your home? Of course you wouldn't. On the other hand, given the choice, you would buy another manufacturer's product that was not a threat to you and your family's safety.

But this is all too easy; most manufacturers are not going to warn consumers that their products present a fire threat. They won't do this because they know that they would never sell them, and they shouldn't sell them. But selling is all about money and has nothing to do with our family's safety or well-being. This is where co-responsibility comes in.

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When we become aware that a product may pose a hazard -- such as a threat of fire -- it is up to all of us not to buy that product. Companies naturally do not want their products associated with fire hazards in the minds of the public. However, when a responsible company is informed about a safety concern involving its product, that company will do the right thing for their customers. That might mean a voluntary recall of the product and eliminating the hazard in the future. Unfortunately, there are irresponsible companies that just prefer to ignore information and continue to keep right on manufacturing the same merchandise, the same way, because to fix the problem might cost a few more pennies.

I have personally seen this first-hand. When I became aware that some types of computer equipment have highly flammable outer housings, I wrote to the manufacturers, asking them to please make their products fire safe. I have been to our lawmakers seeking and receiving their help on these matters. I have written and received help from local Fire Departments, Burn Survivors groups, and Burn Hospitals. I write and send failed fire tests to anyone and everyone that I think will be as upset as I am about the irresponsibility of these companies.

You might be asking yourselves, who is this person and doesn't she have anything better to do with her time? She needs to find a life! Trust me, I don't need to find a life. I value mine every
day, because I almost lost my life when I was ten years old. You see, I was burned on 86% of my little body. I know how fast a fire takes control of everything that it touches, including your body. I don't want your family to have the same fate that mine was faced with.

The only way to stop the insanity, and keep our homes one step closer to fire proofing, is to insist that companies be responsible with their products, and when they are informed about a fire threat, we expect them to take the initiative to fix these products and recall those that we have already purchased. Anything less than this is unacceptable. It is the consumer that keeps these businesses in business. If we send the message that we will not put our families at risk by buying hazardous products, and if we write to the CEOs of these companies and insist that they fix them, we will be one step closer to creating a safer environment for our loved ones. Many companies won't do the right thing unless we demonstrate to them that "safety sells."

How do you become co-responsible? You become informed, you write to the CEOs of these companies, and Congressmen or women, you don't buy these products, and you inform others. We can make a difference. We can start the process that will ultimately result in safer consumer products.

BE SAFE! BECOME CO-RESPONSIBLE!

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