Are you looking forward to Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night? Fireworks can be a huge amount of fun but if you are planning to enjoy fireworks at home, it is vital to plan carefully to make sure everyone has a safe as well as happy on November 5.
Sheila Merrill, home safety manager for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, says: 'In previous years, about 1,000 people across Britain have had to go to hospital because they've been injured by a firework during the four weeks around Bonfire Night. Nearly half of such injuries are sustained at family or private parties, and nearly half happen to children.
'The best place to enjoy fireworks is at a properly-organised public display. But if you cannot get to one of these, stick to the Firework Code (see below), ensure that only adults set off the fireworks and factor in the possibility that it might be wet and windy on the night of your celebration.'The Firework Code
1. Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable.
2. Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time.
3. Read and follow the instructions on each firework, using a torch if necessary.
4. Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back.
5. Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
6. Never return to a firework once it has been lit.
7. Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
8. Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
9. Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire.
10. Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
Buy your fireworks from a reputable shop such as Tesco or Sainsbury's rather than from the small shops which sometimes spring up just before November 5 to sell fireworks. All fireworks conforming to British Safety Standards will have BS 7114 written on the box.
Sparklers are often viewed as harmless fun even for very young children but in fact a sparkler can become as hot as a welding torch. RoSPA advises that they should never be given to children under five, and that children holding them should wear gloves and be supervised at all times. Provide a bucket of water for used sparklers to be placed in immediately after use and never hold a baby in your arms while also holding a sparkler.
Emma McNeil loves fireworks parties but these days takes great care after witnessing a few close shaves when she was a child. She says: 'There was the woman who took the advice about putting all the fireworks in a fireproof box seriously but forgot to put the lid on - a stray firework exploded the whole box in one go. And my personal favourite, the family friend who put a firework behind his back to keep it clear of the bonfire...but forgot he'd just done the same thing with a taper. And whenever my friend James visits my parents' place the first thing he does is check to see if the burn mark is still on the fence from his attempt to set off a small Catherine Wheel. Thankfully none of these were serious but even the best planned parties can go wrong.'
Mother of two Siobhan O'Neill takes a similarly cautious approach. She says: 'I am a bit wary of garden fireworks parties. I LOVE fireworks, but I would usually prefer to pay to go to a display. I've been hit (as an adult) by a misfiring firework. I was fine, it didn't burn me or explode on me, but I had a nice bruise on my wrist where it hit me.
'Also, people never seem to take into account the trees in their garden. I've seen some scary displays with fireworks ricocheting round the garden because they were hitting branches on the trees above and coming back down. I wouldn't be keen to send my daughter Una to a garden fireworks party unless I was there too and could keep an eye on what's going on.'
If your garden isn't big enough for fireworks, you could consider getting some indoor fireworks to watch indoors.