Safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is helping families across the North with some important advice ahead of this year’s Hallowe’en celebrations.
Following the Firework Code and sparkler safety advice can help prevent the painful injuries that send people, including very young children, to hospital around Hallowe’en each year.
Figures from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety show that 15 people went to an emergency care department in Northern Ireland with a firework injury in the four weeks around Hallowe’en in 2015. While this was three fewer than the previous year, and the significant reduction in firework injuries seen over recent years is continuing, it was concerning that 13 of those injured were under the age of 18 (up from 10 in 2014), with six of the young victims being aged 0-5 (up from two in 2014).
Of the incidents that had location details recorded, nine were at a family/private party, one was at a large public display and one was classed as a casual incident in a public place. And of the incidents that had the type of firework recorded, four involved sparklers, two involved rockets and two involved Roman candles. Wrist/hand injuries were most prevalent, followed by injuries to the face/head/neck and trunk.
The sale of fireworks in Northern Ireland is regulated by a licensing system, and it is against the law to sell outdoor fireworks to under-18s.
Ashley Martin, RoSPA’s public health project manager, said: “We want families to have enjoyable celebrations around Hallowe’en and an important part of this is making sure that events are not only fun but safe. The safest place to enjoy fireworks is at a large public display but if you’ll be having your celebrations at home, be sure to follow the Firework Code. Top tips from the code are to plan your display in advance so you’re not rushing things at the last minute and to keep fireworks in a closed box, using them one at time. Spectators should stand at a safe distance, so make sure your garden is big enough for the fireworks you want to set off. Only adults should deal with fireworks and remember - don’t go back to a lit firework.
“Like injuries from larger fireworks, sparkler injuries can be really serious, especially to very young children. While sparklers may look harmless, they burn at fierce temperatures. We recommend that sparklers are not used by under-5s and that children wear gloves when they’re holding sparklers. When you’ve finished with a sparkler, put it straight into a bucket of cold water.”
RoSPA has also issued video advice to help prevent children being burned from Halloween costumes catching fire. The top tips are: Check your child’s dressing-up costume has a CE mark; Consider replacing candles in pumpkins with battery-operated lights; Keep children away from naked flames.