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Enjoying fireworks in safety

Home firework display
Statistics show that most injuries happen at home firework displays with sparkler injuries to children high on the list
Last year almost 700 children under 16 were treated for firework injuries in the four weeks surrounding bonfire night.

The majority were boys aged 12 to 15. In all almost 1,400 people were treated in hospital for firework related injuries and most of the accidents happened at home with children being the group at greatest risk.

These statistics come from CAPT, the Child Accident Prevention Trust, who say that last year in the UK, there was a 40% increase in firework related injuries with the number of children injured increasing by 35%.

Rockets caused more injuries than any other fireworks, although sparklers caused one in ten accidents with 70% of sparkler injuries happening at family or private parties. 60% of injuries caused permanent injury or scarring.

CAPT, the government and Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service are all encouraging people to observe some basic rules when using fireworks.

They say that when buying fireworks make sure they comply with BS 7114 and are clearly marked for "Indoor, Garden or Display". Fireworks complying with the BS 7114 are limited as to their explosive content, they have recommended safe distances for viewing and have strict times for how long the fuse will burn to enable people to move out of the way.

Firework code

  • Keep fireworks in a sealed box or tin
  • Use them one at a time, replacing the lid immediately
  • NEVER put fireworks in your pocket
  • Read the instructions carefully, using a torch or hand lamp
  • NEVER use a naked flame
  • Light fireworks at arms length using a taper or a firework lighter
  • Stand well back and NEVER return to a firework after it has been lit, it could explode in your face
  • Ensure that all children with fireworks are well supervised
  • NEVER throw fireworks
  • Keep all pets and animals indoors
  • Take care of sparklers, wear gloves to hold them and dispose of sparklers in a bucket of water as soon as they are finished.


It is illegal for shopkeepers to break open retail packets of fireworks and sell them individually. This is because the instructions are often printed on the packet and not on the individual fireworks.

It is an offence (punishable by fine) to let fireworks off in a public place. A public place is anywhere other than your own garden and includes streets, parks and playgrounds.


Animals can be terrified by fireworks and the advice is to keep all pets indoors and close all the curtains to make things calmer. Remember it's not just your own fireworks that cause distress, so you may have to have your pets indoors on several nights when other displays are taking place.


Before lighting your bonfire, check that there are no animals or even children inside. Check the area for hidden aerosol cans and gas cylinders, as these explode violently when heated.

Petrol or paraffin should never be used to light a bonfire and a hose or bucket of water should be ready for immediate use, just in case. Once extinguished, pour water on the fire's embers before leaving, to make sure it's all out.

The bulk of emergency calls received each year by Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service on Bonfire Night are to bonfires which have got out of control. They should always be built in the open and should not be positioned under trees or overhead cables.

All recommend that, where possible, people wanting to enjoy fireworks on Bonfire Night should try to attend one of the organised displays.

You can discuss this and other issues in this site's Forum

November 1, 2002

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