Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is appealing to everyone to put safety first this Halloween by following the Fireworks Code to ensure it’s a night for treats not tragedies.
Last Halloween night (31 October 2015) NIFRS received 149 calls and attended 113 incidents across Northern Ireland. This represented for the first time in 4 years, an increase of 11% on calls attended the previous Halloween, prompting NIFRS to remind people of the consequences of irresponsible behavior at this time of year.
Geoff Somerville, Assistant Group Commander, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) explains:
“We want everyone to enjoy themselves this Halloween but to do so safely and responsibly. Fireworks and sparklers can be dangerous and without proper supervision they can cause serious injury. Last year 15 people attended Emergency Departments across Northern Ireland with firework-related injuries with 13 of these aged under 18.
“We appeal to the public, parents, young people and community leaders to always follow the Firework Code and ensure that fireworks and sparklers are used safely and in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. Plan any firework display in advance to make it both safe and enjoyable.
“We are also asking parents to be aware of the potential dangers of their children wearing fancy dress costumes, either shop bought or home-made. Make sure that children are properly supervised at all times; keep them away from fireworks, or open flames such as candles, pumpkins with candles in them and bonfires. If their costume catches fire remember STOP, DROP and ROLL to quickly extinguish the flames.
“We have made significant strides in reducing the number of incidents we attend on Halloween night over the past few years – with the lowest on record in 2014. We want to return to this downward trend and are asking people to act responsibly to help us in protecting our community.
“Halloween should be a time of enjoyment and fun for everyone and by following a few basic safety rules and by always putting safety first you can help ensure it’s a night for treats not tragedies.”
Halloween Safety Advice
- It is compulsory for anyone wishing to buy or use fireworks to obtain a Licence. The fee for a Fireworks Licence is £30 (if under 100 people attending) and application forms can be obtained from www.nidirect.gov.uk (search Fireworks).
- Only buy fireworks marked with a CE mark – this shows fireworks meet European Safety Standards
- Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
- Keep fireworks in a closed box when not in use and keep away from ignition sources.
- Follow the manufacturer’s advice on each firework and use them one at a time.
- Light them at arm’s length using a taper. Stand well back.
- Never go near a firework that has been lit, even if it hasn’t gone off as it could still explode.
- Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them.
- Always supervise children around fireworks.
- Keep pets and animals indoors – the flames and noise upset them.
- Don’t set off noisy fireworks late at night and never after 11pm.
Sparklers are often viewed as being harmless but they do burn at fierce temperatures. To a young child, the heat from a sparkler is equivalent to the heat from a welding torch.
- Store sparklers in a closed box in a cool, dry place.
- Always light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves, keeping them at arm’s length.
- Never hold a baby or child if you have a sparkler in your hand.
- Plunge finished sparklers hot end down into a bucket of water as soon as they have burnt out. Sparklers stay hot for a long time.
- Don’t take sparklers to public displays. It will be too crowded to use them safely.
- Never give sparklers to under 5s – they will not understand how to use them safely.
- Always supervise children using sparklers, give children woollen gloves to wear and teach them how to use them properly.
Children’s Fancy Dress Costumes:
If your child is wearing a fancy dress costume this Halloween –
- Keep children away from naked flames – avoid using a naked flame or candle in pumpkins; use a torch, glow stick or battery operated candle
- Stop, Drop and Roll if clothing does catch on fire – to try to extinguish the flames and also to stop the flames from rising towards the face
- Choose a costume and mask that doesn’t restrict a child’s visibility or vision.
- Wear woollen tights or ‘heavy’ trousers (jeans) and a woollen jumper under the costume
- Ensure children are well supervised at all times
- Look out for Costumes that are labelled ‘Low Flammability’ ‘BS5722’ or have the European code ‘BS EN 14878’ which meets the higher standard of The Nightware (Safety) Regulations 1985.