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Staying safe this bonfire night

The 5th of November, Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes' night, marks the day in 1605 when Guy Fawkes tried and failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the gunpowder plot.

The anniversary of this failed plot is marked with bonfires and firework displays in public places, paid for events and those in people's back gardens.

Fireworks have also become common for Halloween, Diwali, New Year and the Chinese New Year.

Fireworks parties can be fun if safety rules are followed. Remember that fireworks are actually types of explosives and can cause severe injuries if they are not handled safely.

Private or public display?

The last time firework injury figures were collected for Britain, 990 people went to hospital with a firework-related injury in the four weeks around Bonfire Night.

Safety experts say going to a well-organised public display is the best option by far. Most firework related injuries happen at private events, rather than at organised displays.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) advises people thinking about holding a private party to plan it carefully first. This includes making sure there is enough space in your garden for the fireworks and the spectators.

One key message is never to return to a firework once it's been lit as it could go off in your face.

The Firework Code

Health and safety experts advise people to follow the firework code. People should watch and enjoy fireworks from a safe distance and follow safety rules for using sparklers. Only adults should light fireworks.

Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable:

  • Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time
  • Read the instructions on each firework using a torch - and follow the instructions
  • 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's 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 the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving
  • Keep pets indoors.

Types of firework night injuries

Around half of all of those who are injured by fireworks are children. Injuries include eye and face burns.

Every year around 10 people lose their sight due to fireworks.

Consider using polycarbonate goggles if you're dealing with fireworks at home, which you can pick up from any DIY shop.

In the event of a firework injury affecting the eyes:

  • Seek immediate medical attention, even for seemingly mild injuries. Quick action can minimise the risk of long term damage.
  • Do not rub or rinse the injured eye, or apply ointments, as it could increase the damage and make it more difficult for a specialist to provide treatment.
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