Thousands of people all across the UK are looking forward to celebrating Bonfire Night this week with friends and family. Most of us will be either using fireworks at home or attending spectacular displays to the watch them. Fireworks at home can be great fun but must be used safely. Sadly every year, despite adverts warning about the dangers, there are many injuries caused by fireworks and both children and adults are injured. It is therefore important that you know how to use fireworks safely in order to prevent injury
How to prevent injury when using fireworks
Fireworks are explosives and are very dangerous. You can reduce the risk of personal injury by following these simple safety tips:
- Buy fireworks from a reputable retailer and make sure they conform to British Safety Standards. They should have BS7114 written on the box
- Only set off fireworks outdoors, away from houses and fire hazards such as tall grass, dry leaves, and other fireworks.
- Read the instructions carefully
- Don’t drink alcohol if you are responsible for discharging them
- Wear a hat, eye protection and gloves
- Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergency purposes, and soak any used or misfired fireworks before discarding to prevent fires or accidental ignitions.
- Have a first aid kit to hand
- Never let children use fireworks without adult supervision. Even seemingly harmless fireworks such as sparklers still burn at high temperatures and can cause severe burns if used improperly
- Do not try to reignite used or malfunctioning fireworks.
Types of Injury & How to Treat Them
Fireworks can cause many types of injuries but victims can also suffer from psychological and emotional problems. As a lawyer, the type of injuries that I have seen include major and minor burns, that require skin grafting and urgent medical attention, eye injuries, face, hair and scalp damage, permanent scarring, nerve damage and blindness.
Many of these injuries will be for life and can require ongoing treatment. The resulting scarring, even from a less severe burn, is likely to require careful after-management with regular massage, moisturizing, use of silicon gel and full protection from the sun. More serious scarring will require specialist treatment.
If you, or anyone around you, is involved in a fireworks accident, here is some guidance on what you should do:
- Cool any burns with cold water for at least 10 minutes.
- Cut around any material that is sticking to the skin – do not pull it off.
- Do not touch any burns or burst any blisters.
- Where clothing has caught fire, get the person to stop, drop to the floor and roll them in a heavy material such as thick curtains.
- If the injury is serious, you should call an ambulance or attend your local accident and emergency department immediately. If burns are less serious, you should still seek advice from your doctor or hospital.
Steps to take if injured
If a member of your family is injured at an organised event, you will obviously need to seek immediate medical attention and treatment. Friends or family members should try to make sure they gain full details of the site or venue, a follow up address and a contact number for any safety officer on site.
If you were injured because someone deliberately threw a firework at you, this could amount to a criminal offence and you should contact the police immediately. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme provides financial compensation to those injured by dangerous/criminal behaviour.
Please, have fun but, stay safe.