13/10/2003

Keep kids safe on Bonfire Night, parents warned

A new campaign to remind parents of the dangers of fireworks in the hands of children has been launched today by the DTI, on the day that fireworks go on sale across the UK.

Despite an overall fall of 25% in injuries caused by fireworks last year, hospitals still treated 88 children under five, and 132 people were injured by sparklers.

The government has joined forces with national charity, Child Accident Prevention Trust, to produce a series of TV adverts to remind parents that sparklers can cause serious injury if not used sensibly.

Consumer Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: "Bonfire Night celebrations should be fun, but always remember fireworks are explosives and can be a hazard if not handled with care. Even a simple sparkler can reach temperatures of 1000°C – that's 10 times the temperature of boiling water.

"Both the DTI and Child Accident Prevention Trust advise parents never to give sparklers to children under five and to teach older children how to use sparklers safely.

"Teenagers thinking of messing around with fireworks this year should also think again. They are the most likely age group to end up in casualty departments."

As part of the campaign, firework packs have been sent to 25,000 schools around the country with teaching materials linked to the National Curriculum about the safe use of fireworks.

Child Accident Prevention Trust chief executive, Katrina Phillips, said: "Sparklers are often considered to be harmless fun but children under five are just too young to understand how to use them safely, and children's skin is much more sensitive than adults so burns can be a lot more severe for them. Our advice to parents is to supervise young children closely. That way you should be able to enjoy fireworks night without ending up rushing your child to hospital."

The campaign launch comes hard on the heels of new powers for the government to cut down on the problem of noise, nuisance and the anti-social use of fireworks.

The Fireworks Act will enable the government to set a maximum noise limit for fireworks, license retailers selling fireworks and ban their use during anti- social hours. These new laws will not apply to Bonfire Night this year but the DTI is calling on retailers and consumers to act in the spirit of the new law so that everyone can have fun, while considering others - avoiding the misery that fireworks can sometimes cause.

(gmcg)

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