With many folk celebrating Bonfire Night this weekend and through to November 5, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is reminding families not to gamble with their safety when it comes to fireworks.
RoSPA says half of all injuries caused by fireworks happen at family or private parties and about a quarter in the street or other public place.
A much smaller proportion - around 10 per cent - of the injuries happen at large public displays.
Data collected across Britain in previous years shows that, on average, around 1,000 people visit A&E for treatment of a firework-related injury in the four weeks around Bonfire Night, with half of the injuries being suffered by under-18s. The minimum age for buying fireworks is 18 across the UK.
Amy McCabe, whose son Ben was injured at a street firework display, has called on the public to choose the safer option of attending an organised display. Ben was four years old when he was left with permanent scarring after he was hit by a firework at the display held in a residential cul-de-sac in Glasgow.
Amy said: “”At our street display, all the instructions were followed and the crowd was kept well back from the display. Don’t think that this sort of accident will never happen to you - fireworks are an explosive at the end of the day. Going to displays that are properly organised is the safest option.
“Ben still suffers nightmares following the incident and is very apprehensive about hot water, candles and loud bangs. He gets very upset and doesn’t want any other child to go through what he’s gone through.””
RoSPA’s fireworks website - www.saferfireworks.com - has everything you need to know about planning a safe fireworks display. It provides details on UK law, tips for setting up a display and the Firework Code:
Plan your fireworks display to make it safe and enjoyable
Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time
Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back
Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
Never return to a firework once it has been lit
Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, said: “Firework season is always an exciting time of year and it is a fantastic event for bringing the family together. But we are appealing to families to ensure that fireworks are treated with respect and are handled only by adults. Adults can also help children and young people to understand the dangers, sharing the important message that fireworks are not toys or missiles.
“If you are planning a firework display at home, good planning is paramount, as is checking to see if your garden is big enough for the fireworks you are buying.
“The safest place to enjoy fireworks is at properly-organised displays, but RoSPA recognises that not everyone can attend such events. If you are planning to have fireworks at home, we urge people to brush up on the Firework Code to ensure their celebration goes off without incident. It is important to be prepared and to not leave safety until the last minute.
“Only buy fireworks from a reputable retailer and ensure the packaging carries the ‘CE’ mark or is marked with ‘BS 7114’.”