Halloween is a time for all the family to relax and create memories. Halloween celebrations are growing each year to the point that it is now a major, yearly event – It is important to make sure you create the right sort of memory!
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill, Justice Minister Claire Sugden and the emergency services are all encouraging the public to make sure their loved ones remain safe during the Halloween break and follow the Fireworks Safety Code.
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “In 2015 we had three less (15) firework related injuries than we did in the same period in 2014 (18) throughout the north of Ireland. This is a remarkable effort, but there is still room for improvement. Any injury is one too many and if the public adhere to the Firework Code, then firework related injuries could become a record Zero injuries.
“I would be delighted if there were no firework related injuries reported this year, and with a little effort by everyone involved these figures could be reduced to a possible Zero injuries recorded this year.
“Every single member of the public has a duty of care to ensure fireworks are handled responsibly in an attempt to prevent fireworks related injuries, particularly towards children and young people. We all want family and friends to relax and enjoy this Halloween period. Most of all we want to protect our loved ones so that we can enjoy these Halloween celebrations again next year.
“Let us all aim to make sure our family and friends remain safe this year and do our best to further reduce fireworks injuries and demonstrate how responsible we all can be around fireworks by following the Fireworks Code. At this time of year we must be extremely aware, and continue to be safe, not sorry.”
Fireworks can also have a traumatic effect on the elderly, pets and farm animals, Minister ONeill again appealed to everyone, to stay safe and act responsibly.
The Justice Minister, Claire Sugden, highlighted the legal requirement to secure a licence to use fireworks and the importance of buying from a legitimate supplier.
She said: “We want Halloween to be safe as well as fun, so if you’re using fireworks this year please abide by the Fireworks Safety Code available on the NI Direct website. And remember that anyone purchasing fireworks must have a licence, which can be obtained from the Department of Justice, and fireworks should only be bought from a registered supplier.”
Adding his support to the campaign Brian McNeill, Director of Operations with the Ambulance Service said: “All too often Paramedics are called out to people, mostly young people, with injuries caused by the misuse of fireworks. These injuries can remain with a person for life and can often mean the loss of fingers or serious burns injuries that leave scar tissue.
“The truth is that such injuries are avoidable by just following the fireworks safety code. People should not hold fireworks that are likely to explode in their hands or close to their bodies as it at these times when the most serious injuries occur. We want people to have fun over the Halloween period but, most of all, we want them to stay safe.
“Injuries that are caused in a moment of carelessness that can never be bought back and can have a debilitating impact that can last forever. NIAS Paramedics have witnessed at first hand the life changing injuries that can be caused by fireworks. We would urge people to follow the Fireworks Code and ensure that an adult is always in charge. Have fun but stay safe!”
ACC Stephen Martin from the Police Service offered his advice: “Halloween should be a safe and enjoyable time for everyone, however, it can be a busy time of the year for police. It is not uncommon to see increased reports of criminal damage and calls in relation to anti-social behaviour, particularly in relation to noise complaints.
“Most people are responsible, but the stark reality is that fireworks are made from explosive material and if misused, can cause serious and life changing injuries.
“The law clearly states that fireworks – except indoor fireworks and sparklers – must be bought from reputable, licensed dealers who are required to keep sales records. Fireworks bought from other sources may not be British Standard approved thus presenting an even bigger risk of injury. It is also illegal to possess, sell, handle or use fireworks if you do not have a licence. And you can be fined up to £5,000 for breaking the law.
“We need the community to help us stop illegal fireworks sales and misuse of fireworks. Please contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you have any information as it may help prevent someone being seriously injured.
“The message is simple – enjoy Halloween, but be sensible and don’t break the law.”
Giving his support Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Community Protection, Fire Service said: “Always follow the manufacturer’s advice on how to light and use fireworks and sparklers correctly. Never go near a lit firework, even if it hasn’t gone off, as it could still explode and always let fireworks cool and dispose of them carefully.
“Never allow small children or pets to go near fireworks. Make sure that children are properly supervised at all times, keep them away from naked flames and if their costume does catch fire remember to STOP, DROP and ROLL to try and quickly extinguish the flames and to stop the flames from rising towards their face.
“Parents should also be aware of the potential dangers of their children wearing fancy dress costumes, either shop bought or home-made, if they are around fireworks, sparklers or open flames such as pumpkins with candles.
“Fireworks and sparklers can be great fun at Halloween but they need to be handled carefully to avoid serious burns injuries. We appeal to people to act responsibly around fireworks this Halloween.”