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Woman holding a sparkler

On 5th November the skies across the country will be lit up by a series of bright and colourful firework displays. From Cartwheels to sparklers Fireworks night can be exciting for all the family. However, as fun and exciting as they are we must put safety at the forefront. Over 4,500 people visited Accident and Emergency last year in the UK as a result of a firework related injury and one third of parents and grandparents have witnessed an injury on Bonfire Night. Emergency services are pushed to the brink every year and this year Police Scotland have riot powers on standby.

There are now a significant number of organised displays where the safety of the visitors has been fully assessed and where measures are in place to avoid life threatening injuries. Yet fireworks can be bought (by anyone over 18 years old) over the counter in almost every town in the country. Whilst there are some safety regulations in place governing the sale and manufacture of them there are few safeguards in terms in relation to who can buy them and where they can be used.

There is a curfew of 11pm unless it is a seasonal celebration such as bonfire night or New Year and they must only be let off on private land. This leads to many private displays where no attention has been paid to safety and of course the result can be life changing injuries. In our view there ought to be strict licence requirements for anyone purchasing fireworks so that they cannot be let off in dangerous locations, by people with no training or experience, and a without proper assessment of the risks. We would urge everyone to enjoy the stunning displays safely by attending an organised display. However, if you are going to hold your own display we would urge you to follow the below guidance from ROSPA:

  1. Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and ensure it finishes before 11pm
  2. Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114, keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time
  3. Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
  4. Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back
  5. Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  6. Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  7. Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
  8. Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  9. Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
  10. Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.

Blog by Alan Calderwood, Accident Solicitor

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