Focus on firework safety

20 Oct 2011


While deaths from firework accidents are thankfully rare, it is estimated that this year around 500 children under the age of 16 will attend A&E in the next four weeks with firework-related injuries. Here’s all you need to know to keep children safe.

Last Saturday, fireworks went on general sale to the public. While the law states that fireworks must not be sold to children under the age of 18, this does not prevent them getting in to the hands of children and young people. Irresponsible fooling around with fireworks inevitably accounts for some of the accidental injuries. Crucially however, it doesn’t account for them all.

Children are at risk of serious burns from fireworks and sparklers even when they’re being closely supervised. Even if you’ve decided to attend an organised event, rather than have your own fireworks, sparklers for children are freely available and can be very dangerous for young children.

In the run up to 5 November, now’s a really good time to start raising awareness about firework safety among parents and carers - we’ll bet there aren’t many who know that a sparkler can easily reach a temperature of 2000 degrees celsius.

CAPT doesn’t want to take the fun out of bonfire night – we love it as much as anyone, know that many families look forward to it, and that it can be a thoroughly magical experience for children.

Along with the fire and rescue services, hospitals, burns specialists and organisations such as the Children’s Burns Trust, we’d like to see fewer children suffering serious burns injuries at this time of year. Burns injuries for children can be very nasty as their skin is much thinner than that of an adult. Often they can lead to painful and protracted treatment including skin grafts and of course lifelong scarring.

We know that by following a few simple steps, which won’t curtail their enjoyment of the evening, parents can help prevent their child from having an accident.

What are the basic rules?

Don’t give sparklers to children under the age of five – they don’t understand why they can be dangerous and cannot be relied on to follow simple safety instructions.

Don’t hold babies and young children while you’re holding a sparkler – they can reach out unexpectedly.

Children aged five and over will still need you to supervise them when they hold sparklers. While we do recommend that gloves are worn as they can help protect hands, they won’t fully protect young hands from burns. Teach children not to wave them around, run with them, or pick them up once they’ve finished. The best advice is to put them out (and cool them down) in a bucket of water.

For more comprehensive advice on child safety around fireworks, see our practitioner section:

More information

If you do buy and use fireworks or are organising a display, it’s very important to follow official guidelines on the responsible use of fireworks.

If you’ve got five minutes, download a safety poster and put it up where parents can see it. We like this one from the Department of Business and Skills (BIS):

The Safe Network, of which CAPT is a part has lots of information on how to run safe groups and activities for children:

Plan more accident prevention campaigns