It’s that time of year again – when sparklers are in abundance and gorgeous colours light up the sky. Bonfire night is a favourite time of year for many, and serves as a nice prelude to the Christmas season. Unfortunately, it is also a celebration with a history of accidents and injuries, a number of which have been life-threatening.
In 2005 alone there were approximately 990 firework-related accidents in Great Britain; this is a cause for concern not be ignored. Below are a few tips on how to stay safe and have fun on Bonfire night, whether you are attending a public event or having fireworks in your home.
- This goes without saying, but never, ever, throw a firework. For one thing, it’s a criminal offence and you can be fined up to £5000 for doing so. For another, fireworks travel at great speed (up to 150mph) and are extremely hot. Throwing one will not only endanger you but also others around you.
- Certain health conditions can be aggravated further by fireworks. Therefore, if you suffer from asthma, bronchitis or have a heart condition, it’s probably best to either stay inside, or watch the show from a safe distance. Though this may seem like a poor alternative, you can still get a good view and admire the fireworks from your window if you turn your lights off. Your health should always come first.
- Though public displays are generally safer to attend, many people will also celebrate the night in their own homes. If this is the case, there are a few things you should take note of:
- Once a firework is lit, never go back to it. Plenty of firework accidents have been caused by people going back to a firework that hasn’t gone off. If in doubt, stay well away.
- Only buy fireworks CE marked BS EN 15947.
- Read the firework instructions using a torch or a hand lamp – do not use a naked flame.
- Smoking/disposing of cigarettes next to a firework is also extremely risky. If you need to smoke, do so before the show and dispose of used cigarettes well away from the area.
Sparklers look gorgeous when lit, but it’s worth remembering that they can heat up to several hundred degrees Celsius, equivalent to the temperature of a welding torch – so exercise caution!
- Never burn more than one sparkler at a time as this can cause a flare-up, which can be enough to burn your arms or face.
- If you happen to become intoxicated on the night, handling sparklers is a definite no-no, even with supervision. The number of injuries sustained by drunken people messing around with sparklers is staggering. If you particularly want to light one, do so at the beginning of the night when you are more likely to be sober.
- Once it is finished, don’t just throw a sparkler on the floor – this is a fire hazard. Instead, dispose of them in a bucket of water or sand.
Though some of these tips may seem tedious, they are well worth following. Just last month, a teenager suffered life-changing injuries after a firework exploded in his hand. This incident cost him his thumb and index finger, as well as the pincer grip – the ability to hold objects between the thumb and fingers.
Don’t be under the impression that these kinds of incidents are rare, or they could never happen to you. From 2015-2016, more than 5200 people went to A&E for a firework-related injury – a 144% increase from 2009-10.
It’s clear that firework accidents can, and do affect all of us, even young people, so it’s important that, as well as having a great time, we endeavour to look after ourselves and those around us.
For more Bonfire Nights Health and Safety Trip check out their website here.
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Featured Image courtesy of ‘Stephen Bowler’ via Flickr. Image licence found here.