Firefighters and burns specialists issue safety warning ahead of Bonfire Night

Firework accidents can result in extensive and “life-changing” trauma to the hands and face.Firework accidents can result in extensive and “life-changing” trauma to the hands and face.
Firework accidents can result in extensive and “life-changing” trauma to the hands and face.
Firefighters have urged people to “think twice” before hosting their own Bonfire Night displays after figures revealed dozens of hospital admissions for fireworks injuries in Scotland over the last five Octobers and Novembers.

Exclusive Public Health Scotland figures, obtained by the JPIMedia Data Unit, show 31 people were admitted to hospital with a firework-related injury over the Hallowe’en and Bonfire months between 2015 and 2019.

PHS was unable to provide figures for A&E attendances. Only those with the most serious injuries will be admitted to hospital.

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In England, NHS Digital figures show at least 3,591 people visited A&E with fireworks-related injuries over the same period – nine times higher than the 416 people who were admitted there.

Neil Odin, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s prevention committee, said the Bonfire Night period was “notoriously busy” for the UK’s fire and rescue services.

But with big displays cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, he fears this year could see a surge in injuries as people attempt to create their own fireworks fun – and added pressure on an already strained NHS.

“Normally we advise people to attend a professionally organised display because we know they are safer with very few significant injuries occurring and appropriate first aid is always available on site,” he said.

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“This year, however, as we all know, is very different. The pandemic means more families may try to hold displays at home perhaps without the experience of having handled fireworks before.

“We ask people to think twice about whether they need to have a display at home and instead look to other ways of celebrating Bonfire Night with their immediate families.”

Yvonne Wilson, a consultant plastic surgeon and chair of the British Burns Association, added: “Every year around this time we see an increase in the number of burns accidents as a result of fireworks that require ongoing medical treatment. 

“The anticipated increase in home displays may also lead to an increase in these types of injuries which can be devastating for families, so we urge caution.”

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Firework accidents can result in extensive and “life-changing” trauma to the hands and face, according to Mark Henley, president of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, with patients often requiring multiple rounds of complex surgery.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament, Ash Denham, Minister for Community Safety, said she was aware of “completely unacceptable” incidents of fireworks being thrown at emergency service workers last weekend.

“There have been persistent issues with the misuse of fireworks in Scotland over recent years,” she said.

“The line is clear from our police, prosecutors and courts – people who commit these offences will be dealt with robustly.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said anyone hosting a private event should familiarise themselves with their firework code and fire safety guidance.

 For more on the Fireworks Code visit here.

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