Ensure Your Bonfire Night Celebrations Go Off With A Bang: Keeping Safe And Avoiding Firework-Related Injury
As the nights draw in, families and friends all around the UK will be keen to get together this year to celebrate the holidays. Often these celebrations will involve firework displays, which of course can be lots of fun for all those attending. However, it is important to remember that fireworks can be extremely dangerous and there are certain health and safety risks that need to be considered when you are hosting or attending an event.
Fireworks can cause severe burn injuries if they are not managed properly and safely. The Children’s Burns Trust have warned that each year, over 550 children under 16 are taken to A&E in the four weeks surrounding bonfire night alone. The latest data from 2020/2021 shows that more than 100 people last year were injured so badly by fireworks that they were required hospitalisation.
The Child Accident Prevention Trust has highlighted the need for particular vigilance this year, as covid and flu cases requiring emergency medical attention continue to soar. Data from September 2022 showed that the NHS was already experiencing record demand for emergency services, with ambulances responding to 76,000 life-threatening incidents and call handlers taking more than one million 999 calls.
If someone is hosting a firework party, they should ensure that they are purchasing the fireworks from a licensed supplier, that they read the instructions carefully before use and that they light the fireworks from a safe place. Only adults should set up fireworks, light them and safely dispose of them once they have been used. Children and young people should also be supervised and everyone should make sure they watch fireworks from a safe distance.
Sparklers can often be seen as a relatively harmless way of allowing very young children to participate in the excitement, but a sparkler can reach temperatures of 20 times the boiling point of water. It is recommended that sparklers are never given to children under the age of 5 and that older children should wear gloves, hold the sparkler at arm’s length and always have a bucket of water nearby to put the used sparklers in.
The Firework Code by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) recommends you follow these top 10 tips for a safe celebration:
- Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and check the time you can legally set off fireworks
- Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark, keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
- Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit
- Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
- Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
- Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
- Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
Can I bring a claim for personal injury if I am hurt by a firework?
If you have been injured as a result of a firework display, either private or organised, and your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you could be entitled to make a personal injury claim for compensation.
The types of injuries that you could make a claim for include, but are not limited to:
- Burns, disfigurement or scarring
- Full or partial sight loss
- Damage to your hearing
- Psychological injuries as a result of an accident, including as a result of seeing a loved one getting injured.
Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, an occupier of land owes duty to any visitor to take reasonable care to make sure the visitor is safe on the premises.
If you are injured at an organised firework display, the organiser may be liable for the injuries and subsequent losses that you suffered as an attendee at their event.
As you might imagine, private firework displays are statistically more likely to result in injuries. This is particularly so where the person setting them off is not experienced in doing so, the area has not been risk assessed, or the organiser / attendees have consumed alcohol. If you are injured at a private display, the person letting off the fireworks could be liable for your injuries. However, unlike professional organisers, that person is unlikely to carry any insurance, which can make a claim harder to pursue- but it may still be possible!
In the sad instance that you suffer a psychiatric injury as the result of witnessing your loved one being injured at a firework display, there may also be scope to pursue a claim for damages. You do not have to have been physically hurt for a claim of this nature to be successful, but you do need to have a strong bond of love and affection with the injured person and have witnessed the event or the immediate aftermath.
In the event a firework malfunctions and you are injured, you may be able to hold the manufacturer liable under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. Should this happen, it is advised for the organiser to keep the receipt, packaging and any instructions that came with the firework to later help evidence your potential claim.
If you sustain a firework injury that was not your fault, it is important to seek expert legal advice in relation to making a claim as soon as possible. Making a claim could help you recover costs of any medical treatment, care and medication, the loss of earnings due to time taken off work and the pain and suffering you endured as a result of the injury.
Should you or a loved one suffer injuries due to poorly manufactured fireworks or due to attending an unsafe public fireworks display, call our expert Personal Injury Lawyers now on 0808 252 5231 or request a call back.