With the widespread cancellation of organised public firework displays this year, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is concerned over the potential for a spike in serious burn injuries.
Professionally-organised displays are traditionally the best and safest way to enjoy fireworks. Firework displays in back gardens present greater risks and the illegal misuse of fireworks can often lead to injuries.
But due to COVID-enforced cancellations, RoSPA is concerned that more people than ever will buy and use fireworks themselves as they seek to entertain family and friends, which could lead to an increase in life-changing injuries.
Ashley Martin, RoSPA public health adviser, said: “We see hundreds of firework-related injuries every year, and they literally change lives, with people receiving scarring that requires lifelong treatment.
“There’s a real possibility that number could rise this autumn, so we’re urging everyone that’s planning their own display to follow the Firework Code, which you can find at www.rospa.com/fireworks
“Please only buy from reputable retailers, check the box carries a CE mark, and make sure you’re only buying category 2 and category 3 fireworks. As even some of these will be too powerful for your back garden please check the distance requirements on the instructions. When storing them at home, make sure to keep them out of the reach of children.”
Stephen Mullen, a consultant in paediatric emergency medicine at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, said: “Every year I see children and young people attend the emergency department with injuries around Halloween. These injuries are often from fireworks and bonfires and can be severe, requiring hospital admission and multiple surgeries.
“For these children, they are potentially life changing injuries, causing pain, loss of function and scarring.
“Please be careful when you are around fireworks and bonfires, especially with children. Please read the recommended guidance to ensure you remain safe, and refresh your knowledge on burns first aid (cool, call, cover). Being safe does not mean you will miss out on fun, but it may mean you miss a visit to the emergency department.”
Follow the Firework Code:
- Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and check the time that you can legally set off fireworks
- Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark, keep them 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.