Warning over fireworks danger

As Bonfire night approaches once again, hospitals and campaign groups are warning against the dangers of fireworks and bonfires.

With the number of accidents in the next week expected to be up on last year, the message of fire safety around on Guy Fawkes is more important than ever.

In 1994-98 three people died and over 6,000 people needed hospital treatment as a result of fireworks injuries..  Despite these shocking figures, the government ceased collecting the data around firework induced injuries.

Alistair Brown is a consultant plastic surgeon at Ulster Hospital and thinks people are taking huge risks. “Unfortunately we’ve had quite a steep rise of incidents over the past fortnight, in young men around 16 and 17 years old. ” Mr Brown said he has treated 12 people for fireworks injuries in the last few weeks, normally it is about two patients.

A police spokesperson said: “Fireworks are explosives and burn at high temperatures, so they need careful handling and storage; they are not toys to play with.They should not be lit by young people, adults should light them at arms length with a taper, and stand well back once lit.”

A  package of new measures made under the Fireworks Act 2003 designed to tackle the anti-social use of fireworks has introduced many changes. The Act included a curfew which stops anyone using fireworks from 11pm to 7am.  It is illegal for anyone under 18 to carry fireworks in public places.

Although the ban is lifted for special occasions, there are still strict time limits. This year bonfire revellers will only be able to buy fireworks between between 15 October and 10 November. Similar restrictions apply around Christmas and New Year and Diwali. For a list of registered sellers visit the City of Edinburgh Council Website.

Last year 398 people were reported for possessing fireworks without a licence. Police are urging members of the public not to make the same mistake this year. The licence for events where there are fewer than 100 spectators is £30.

Many animal rights campaigners are also speaking up about the dangers of fireworks.

A spokesperson from Campagin Group Ban the Bang said :”In the UK, more and more people use fireworks to celebrate personal occasions and other events. So besides traditional UK celebrations like Guy Fawkes night, the threat to wildlife is now extended throughout the entire year. New laws imposed in 2004 to curb the use of fireworks have made no difference at all.”