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Firework safety warning

Statistics show sparkler injuries to children are most common
Fire officers in Herts are warning that fireworks can kill. They are urging people to attend organised displays, which they say are far safer than having displays at home.

There is also concern about bonfires, which officers say can easily get out of control, and cause extensive damage to property.

The message this year is, ďmake sure that fireworks, and bonfire celebrations, mean fun in safety, not reckless danger or dreadful injuries.Ē

The fire service says itís best to attend an organised firework displays if possible. One is being held at Little Heath School, organised by the PTA and Rotary, on Saturday, 8 November. Click here for details.

If not, anyone buying fireworks for private displays, such as those held in back gardens, or at the workplace, should always follow rigorously the fireworks code.

Anyone igniting fireworks, or supervising bonfires, should never mix their responsibility with drinking alcohol. Officers say this is a potentially lethal cocktail that can lead to a needless accidents.

They say particular care is needed where young children are concerned. Sparklers cause many injuries to youngsters every year, and the Fire & Rescue Service is emphasising the dangers if they are mishandled.

Sparklers burn with an intense, white heat, and should not be given to children under five, they recommend. They say children should always wear gloves when handling sparklers, and light them one at a time.

Parents are also urged to never leave children unattended when they are holding sparklers, and once the sparklers have finished burning, to douse them quickly in a bucket of water. They say they remain hot, even when the appear to be burned out.

Other reminders of firework safety are:

  • Remember: The age limit for buying fireworks is 18.
  • ALL bangers are illegal for general sale.
  • Donít buy fireworks if they are not marked as meeting BS 7114, they could be illegal imports.
  • Donít attempt to use professional high-power fireworks, such as those used in organised displays. To the untrained, they are as lethal as hand grenades.
  • Keep fireworks in a closed metal box, take them out one at a time and put the top back on straight away.
  • Follow the instructions on each firework carefully - read them by torchlight and never by naked flame.
  • Use a bucket of soft earth to stick fireworks in and ensure suitable supports for Catherine wheels and sturdy, stable launchers for any rockets.
  • Light the end of the fireworkís fuse at armís length, preferably with a safety firework lighter or fuse wick.
  • Never throw fireworks.
  • Donít let off fireworks in a street or public place - Itís not only dangerous, itís also an offence.
  • Stand well back and never return to a firework once lit - it may go off in your face. Use tongs or gloves to collect spent fireworks after the display.
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket.
  • Keep pets indoors Ė they donít like firework displays.
  • Never fool with fireworks.
According to the Fire and Rescue Service, the bulk of emergency calls, received each year during fireworks night celebrations, are to bonfires, which have got out of control.

Such situations are easily avoided with some pre-planning.

Bonfires should always be built in the open, at least 18 metres (60 ft) away from buildings, sheds, fences, and hedges. They should never be positioned under trees, or overhead cables.

Before lighting a bonfire, the area should be carefully checked for hidden aerosol cans and gas cylinders, as these will 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 fireís embers before you leave, to make sure it is all out.

According to the fire service, one of Hertfordshireís natural residents, the hedgehog, shelters under bonfires. People are asked to check the bonfire for resting hedgehogs prior to lighting it.

If a fire gets out of hand, call the Fire and Rescue Service immediately by dialling 999.

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

19 October 2003

Related News
Enjoying fireworks in safety - November 1, 2002

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