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Fireworks and bonfires

Fireworks and bonfires can be fun, but they can be dangerous too.

Fireworks image

Ahead of bonfire night, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) and Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue are offering their top tips to keep your kids safe.

With national figures showing the number of firework-related injuries rising year on year*, the two emergency services have released a series of shocking images to remind people of the dangers of fireworks and how they can be avoided with some simple precautions.

The images are based on the real-life experiences of Lincolnshire paramedics, technicians and firefighters.

Last year, Ben Shepherd, emergency medical technician at EMAS, was called to a particularly distressing incident.

He said: “We got the call to go and help a child who had been hit in the face by a firework. I didn’t really know what I was expecting, but when I arrived on scene, as a father of two young children, I was utterly shocked.

“The young boy had severe burns to whole right-hand side of his face, and it was clear that his eye had been impaled. We tried to treat him and make him as comfortable as possible while we transported him to the severe burns unit at QMC in Nottingham. Sadly, even with the treatment available, the little boy lost the vision in his eye and was left with significant scarring to his face.”

Darren Stones, watch commander support at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, added: “This is an absolutely heart-breaking story - no child or parent should ever have to go through something like that. So whether you’re planning to attend an organised display or celebrate at home, please follow these simple steps to keep your kids safe.”

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue’s top tips are:

  • If you give your kids sparklers, please supervise them.
  • Make sure everyone is a safe distance away from lit fireworks and bonfires.
  • Supervise your kids around fireworks and keep pets indoors.
  • Never return to a firework that has been lit. Even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode.
  • Don’t leave the bonfire unattended
  • Follow the Firework Code

The firework code

Ben Shepherd, Emergency Medical Technician for EMAS talks about attending an incident where a young child got hit in the face by a firework causing severe injuries.

Ben Shepherd, Emergency Medical Technician for EMAS talks about how EMAS deal with incidents on bonfire night, one of the busiest nights of the year for the service.

*Data from NHS’ Accident and Emergency attendances in England 2014-15 - Table 12

More top tips on how to stay safe this bonfire night

Take special care with sparklers

Sparklers can be enjoyable for young children but adults must be aware of their potential dangers. Sparklers are the cause of a disproportionate number of injuries but only a few simple precautions are necessary:

A simple sparkler reaches a temperature of up to 2,000°C.  That’s 20 times the boiling point of water. That’s why we constantly have to remind people to be so careful with any type of firework.  

  • Always supervise children with sparklers
  • Teach them to hold the sparkler at arms length, but not near anyone else
  • Sparklers are not for the under 5’s.  They will be labelled as such and it is your responsibility
  • Have a container of water handy, big enough for the spent sparkler.  Dump the sparkler in it as soon as it goes out.

What to do if your child suffers burns

Building a bonfire

Fire can spread easily, so where and how you build your bonfire is important:

  • Build the bonfire away from sheds, fences and trees
  • Check there are no cables, like telephone wires, above the bonfire
  • Don’t build the bonfire too big and make sure the stack is stable and won’t collapse outwards or to one side
  • Check the bonfire before lighting it to ensure there are no children or pets hiding inside
  • Use only dry material - damp material will cause more smoke, which could annoy your neighbours or be harmful to people with breathing difficulties
  • Don’t burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint - many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode causing injury
  • Don’t use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going - it may get out of control quickly. Use paper and firelighters as a safer alternative

Bonfire safety tips

Once the bonfire is lit, make sure you:

  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby, in case of emergencies
  • Keep children and pets away from the bonfire
  • Once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water to stop it reigniting.

Don’t break the law!

  • It is illegal to let fireworks off between 11 pm and 7 am, except on bonfire night (midnight), Diwali, New Year and Chinese New Year (1 am)
  • It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks in a public place


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Last updated: 6 November 2017

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