Local ambulance service urges the public to enjoy fireworks responsibly.
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) appreciates that fireworks often play a major part in celebrations like Bonfire Night, Diwali and Chinese New Year. However, fireworks are explosives and burn at high temperatures, so they need careful handling and storage to minimize the risk of injury.
Your local ambulance service would like to thank members of the public for heeding their advice last year to enjoy fireworks responsibly. Between 00.01 hours on 1 November 2011 and 23.59 hours on 7 November 2011 SCAS received 5 calls to incidents involving fireworks. This compares with 4 calls received for the same period in 2010 and 13 calls received for the same period in 2009.
Statistics show that more children than adults get hurt by fireworks. So, if you're planning to celebrate November 5 by staging your own display for family, or friends, rather than attending an organised event, follow a few simple steps and stay safe.
Remember preparation is key to enjoying fireworks safely. Before your firework display:
- don't buy fireworks from anywhere you're not sure about, like a van or a temporary, unlicensed market stall
- only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 - this is the British Standard that all fireworks should meet (a reputable shop will know this)
- follow the instructions on each firework - read them in daylight or by torchlight, never by a naked flame
- make suitable supports and launchers if you're setting off Catherine wheels or rockets
Here are a few household items you will need on the night if you're planning a private firework display with family or friends:
- a closed metal box to store the fireworks - take them out one at a time
- a bucket of water - to cool sparklers and put out any small fires
- eye protection and gloves
- a bucket of earth to stick fireworks in
- Here are a few simple guidelines to stay safe when lighting fireworks:
- only one person should be responsible for letting off fireworks
- don't drink alcohol if you are setting off fireworks
- light fireworks at arm's length, using a taper
- make sure everyone stands well back
- never go back to a firework that has been lit - even if it hasn't gone off it could still explode
Sparklers are fun, but always:
- supervise children with sparklers and never give them to a child aged under five years
- light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
- put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water
Other tips to follow for a safe display on the night:
- keep pets indoors - most animals get very scared by the lights and noise from fireworks
- never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
- never throw spent fireworks on a bonfire
- take care around bonfires - all clothes, even those labeled 'low flammability', can catch fire.
The following First Aid advice will enable you to treat most minor burns and scalds caused by heat at home:
- Stop the burning process as soon as possible. This may mean removing the person from the area, dousing flames with water or smothering flames with a blanket. Do not put yourself at risk of getting burnt as well.
- Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burnt area of skin, but do not attempt to remove anything that is stuck to the burnt skin because this could cause more damage.
- Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm water for 10-30 minutes, ideally within 20 minutes of the injury occurring. Never use ice, iced water or any creams or greasy substances, such as butter.
- Make sure that the person keeps warm, using a blanket or layers of clothing (avoiding the injured area). This is to prevent hypothermia occurring, when a person's body temperature drops below 35°C (95°F). This is a risk if you are cooling a large burnt area, particularly in children and the elderly.
- Cover the burn with cling film in a layer over the burn, rather than by wrapping it around a limb. A clean, clear plastic bag can be used for burns on your hand.
- The pain from a burn can be treated with paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always check the manufacturer's instructions when using over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Children under 16 years of age should not be given aspirin.
It is important to seek medical assistance if:
- the burn is deep or large, or if there is blistering (pockets of fluid on the skin)
- the burn is on the face, hands, feet, genital area, joint areas or is around the upper body, neck or a limb
- smoke or fumes have been inhaled
- there are other injuries that need attention
- the person is going into shock
- the burn is difficult to manage at home or help is needed with pain control
- has a pre-existing medical condition, such as heart, lung or liver disease, or diabetes
- the person has a weakened immune system, for example because they have HIV or AIDS or they are receiving chemotherapy
- the affected person is pregnant
- the affected person is over 60 years of age or a child who is under five years of age
Please do your bit to help us to reduce the number of calls we receive concerning firework related injuries to zero this year and play your part in freeing up valuable resources to help others who may be suffering a life-threatening medical emergency such as cardiac arrest - and remember it costs the taxpayer an average of £247 for each incident we attend.
Published 23 October 2012