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Doctors' concern over 'deer scarer' firework

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith
boy with sparkler

2nd November 2012 - Eye specialists have raised concerns about a relatively new type of firework thought to be responsible for severe eye injuries and blindness in eight children and adults at last year’s bonfire night celebrations.

The injuries in the town of Lewes in Sussex are thought to have been caused by 'rope banger deer scarers'. These have a slow burning rope fuse that which ignites explosives along the rope. However, the doctors from the Sussex Eye Hospital writing in the BMJ say that the fuse and explosives can be cut down, lit and thrown.

Firework regulation

Edward Pringle and colleagues believe tighter legislation is needed around the 'deer scarers', which are not classed as fireworks.

They call on firework event organisers to "actively engage their audience in safer use of fireworks and encourage eye protection".

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills regulates fireworks. A spokesperson told us by email: "The supply of banger fireworks to the public is prohibited under the Pyrotechnic Article Regulations 2010. Bird and deer scarers formed of ropes of bangers are classified as 'other pyrotechnic articles' under the Pyrotechnic Article Safety Regulations 2010, and from 4 July 2013 all such products placed on the market will need to be CE marked to show they meet the safety requirements of the regulations.

"Misuse of these articles – such as separating and throwing the bangers – has the potential to be classed as an offence under the Explosives Act 1875 and the police can apply a fixed penalty notice of £80. Such offences could also be dealt with by a Magistrates Court and if convicted under this section in court could be fined up to £5000."

Firework code

The safety organisation RoSPA gives these firework safety tips:

  • Children and young people should watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance and follow the safety rules for using sparklers.
  • Only adults should deal with firework displays and the lighting of fireworks. They should also take care of the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used.
  • Plan firework displays to make them safe and enjoyable.
  • Keep fireworks 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 then 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 rockets well away from spectators.
  • Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire.
  • Make sure that the bonfire is out and the surrounding area is safe before leaving the event.

Reviewed on November 02, 2012

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