Mounting Evidence that Explosives Used to Get People High


Willie Mays may have thrown off Charlie Brown in the spelling bee, but the two-time National League MVP left kids in no doubt about the dangers of blasting caps. Derek Zona sends in this PSA, in which the multiple-Golden-Glove-winning Giant warns our nation's youth to stay away from these strangely attractive small explosives. If you don't remember the threat discarded blasting caps once posed to American children, you may have been surprised by the discussion of it in my controversial one-minute-magazine post from the other day, but apparently the United States was once the postwar Cambodia of the northern hemisphere, or something like that.

My questions: How widespread was this problem, how widespread was the hysteria, and what was compelling kids to play with blasting caps in the first place? The Institute of Makers of Explosives provides this helpful sketch of the Don't Touch campaign:

The Boy Scouts of America, in connection with their participation in the program, proposed the use of actual examples of blasting caps for Scoutmasters to use in their safety training. This led to the production of the first detonator display board in 1947 on which were mounted various nonelectric and electric blasting caps.

When the program began, hundreds of children were being injured or killed each year. Over the years, the injury rate has been drastically reduced, and for the last 10 years blasting cap injuries to children have been in the single digits in the United States.

There's also this useful advice from whatever blasting cap enthusiast wrote Wikipedia's entry:

Proper recommended procedure is to position the crimping tool and tighten it up, then hold it behind yourself slightly below waist level while actually crimping. While embarrassing, minor injuries to the buttocks are the location least likely to cause serious or permanent incapacitation.

Finally, here is another "Don't Touch Blasting Caps" PSA, which garners the following review:

Andy Williams will save us all!
A guy who drives around in a red station wagon with the words EXPLOSIVES on it drives around all day waiting for the next blasting cap danger. He gets a call about a blasting cap in a garage, and comes just in time as some kids were about to enter it! So, this is almost like Guardiana, except with a disco sound track, and an Andy Williams look-a-like, When the kids ask to see a demonstration of blasting caps in action, Andy says to one of the kids to plug in the television set he has in the back on his station wagon, which of course made me wonder what ELSE he has stashed back there.

Free association: However laudable Andy Williams' attitude toward proper handling of industrial explosives may have been, his support for trigger-happy chanteuse Claudine Longet demonstrated that for the Bard of Branson, as for too many Americans, firearms safety was just a big joke.