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Celebrate safely

2020 - October, Latest news

At this time of year, people take part in all kinds of celebrations, many of which involve fireworks, bonfires, lamps and candles.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, celebrations will be very different this year. 

More people will be having celebrations at home and not going to organised parties or large publically-planned displays that would normally take place. This will increase the risk of fire.

Between 2014 and 2019 there were more than 1,000 severe burn injuries involving fireworks in England and Wales, with 38 per cent of these in youngsters under the age of 15. So it's important to follow some safety rules to ensure everyone has a good time and nobody gets hurt.

Fancy dress costumes can be highly flammable
Fancy dress costumes should only be purchased from reputable retailers and that labels should always be checked. Children are most at risk due to their height and proximity to open flames. To reduce the risk, make sure any candles are placed out of reach of the children, and that open fires have a fireguard placed in front. Stop, drop and roll if clothing does catch on fire – to try to put the flames out and also to stop the flames from rising towards the face.

Take care around candles and lit pumpkins
Site candles and lamps away from things that might catch fire, like curtains, greeting cards, ribbons and other decorations. Be aware of the placement of pumpkins and place them away from any decorations or costumes that can catch. Be sure to put candles out when you leave the room and you may want to consider using battery-operated candles or glow sticks.

Bonfire Safety
Build bonfires away from things that might catch fire, like fences, sheds, foliage and buildings. Keep it to a manageable size and evenly built, so that it collapses inwards as it burns and take care when standing near one because even clothes labelled 'low flammability' are a risk if you get too close. Always check for hedgehogs and other wildlife before lighting your bonfire and never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire or leave bonfires unattended. Lastly please make sure that the bonfire is out and the surroundings are made safe before leaving.

Only buy fireworks from reputable dealers. The fireworks should have the product safety marking BS7114 or equivalent and carry a CE mark.  Fireworks should be kept away from any sources of heat or ignition and be kept dry. They should be stored in their original packaging and ideally in a lockable container or cabinet. Do not let children access them at any stage before, during or after they have been used.

Be wary of sparklers
Fun for children to write their names in the sky and make pretty patterns, however, they present the same risks of burns and scalds as any firework. Always hold sparklers at arm’s length and wear gloves when handling them. Once the sparklers are out, put them in a bucket of water immediately.

Every year thousands of pets will suffer as a result of fireworks being let off. Fireworks are a very stressful and frightening time for many of our pets. Keep your pets indoors and try leaving the radio or television on for them. It’s also a good idea to let your neighbours know in advance if you’re having a firework display, as any loud noises and flashes might cause alarm and distress, including for pets.

Here are tips on how to keep your pets safe on and around 5 November by the RSPCA.

Discarded fireworks and bonfires retain their heat
It is not only lit fires and fireworks that can burn, they retain heat for many hours after they have burnt out. Keep children away from all discarded fireworks and bonfires and ensure they are supervised during and after the celebrations.

Click here for Halloween safety information by Surrey Police

Click here for information on fireworks and the law

Have fun - but stay safe!

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