Firework Safety: The Firework Code & What to Do If Something Goes Wrong

Many of you will be taking little ones to organised bonfire nights, or even having your own displays in the garden at home. Safety organisation RoSPA’s helpful guide below is packed with advice and information on how to enjoy the evening, and what to do if something goes wrong. 

1. Follow the Fireworks Code.

  • Keep fireworks in a closed box
  • Follow the instructions on each firework
  • Light all fireworks at arms length
  • Stand well back
  • Never go back to a lit firework
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket
  • Never throw fireworks
  • Keep Pets indoors for more on pets and fireworks

2. Use only BS 7114 Fireworks

  • Check this when you are buying. All reputable dealers will only sell fireworks to this standard and if you are ever offered any others leave them alone!

3. Take special care with sparklers

  • Sparklers can be beautiful and enjoyable for young children but adults must be aware of their potential. Sparklers are the cause of a disproportionate number of injuries but only a few simple precautions are necessary.
  • Always supervise children with sparklers.
  • Teach them to hold the sparkler at arms length, but not near anyone else
  • Sparklers are not for the under 5s. They will be labeled as such and it is your responsibility.
  • Have a container of water handy, big enough for the spent sparkler. Dump the sparkler in it as soon as it goes out.

NHS Information on Burns and Scalds 

Burns and scalds are damage to the skin caused by heat. Both are treated in the same way.

A burn is caused by dry heat, from an iron or fire for example. A scald is caused by something wet, such as hot water or steam.

Burns can be very painful and can cause blisters and charred, black or red skin.

Read more information about the symptoms of burns and scalds, including the different types of burn.

Treating burns and scalds

To treat a burn, follow the first aid advice below:

  • Immediately get the person away from the heat source to stop the burning.
  • Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm water for 10-30 minutes. Do not use ice, iced water or any creams or greasy substances, such as butter.
  • Remove any clothing or jewellery that is near the burnt area of skin, but do not move anything that is stuck to the skin.
  • Make sure the person keeps warm – for example by using a blanket – but take care not to rub it against the burnt area.
  • Cover the burn by placing a layer of cling film over it.
  • Use painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to treat any pain.

The British Red Cross website has a video about first aid for burns.

When to get medical attention

Every year, around 13,000 people are admitted to hospital for burns and scalds. Many thousands more go to hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments.

Depending on how serious a burn is, it may be possible to treat it at home. For minor burns, keep the burn clean and do not burst any blisters that form.

More serious burns will require professional medical attention. You should go to a hospital A&E department for:

  • all chemical and electrical burns
  • large or deep burns – any burn bigger than your hand
  • full thickness burns of all sizes – these burns cause white or charred skin
  • partial thickness burns on the face, hands, arms, feet, legs or genitals – these are burns that cause blisters

If someone has breathed in smoke or fumes, they should also seek medical attention. Some symptoms may be delayed and can include coughing, a sore throat, difficulty breathing or facial burns.

Children under five years old and pregnant women should also get medical attention after a burn or scald.

The size and depth of the burn will be assessed and the affected area cleaned before a dressing is applied. You should also be given instructions on changing your dressing.

Read more information about recovering from burns and scalds.

If you need advice about a burn, you can:

Use the services directory to find minor injury units and walk-in centres near you.

What causes burns and scalds?

Burns can be caused by:

  • direct contact with something hot, such as fire, hot water or steam
  • radiated heat from an external source, such as the sun
  • certain chemicals
  • electricity
  • friction, when an object or surface rubs against the skin

For more advice on firework safety, check out RoSPA’s low-down on fireworks.

About The Author

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RoSPA is a registered charity that has been at the heart of accident prevention in the UK and around the world for almost 100 years. We promote safety and the prevention of accidents at work, at leisure, on the road, in the home and through safety education. More than 14,000 people die as a result of accidents across the UK each year. There are millions of other injuries. Accidents cause loss and suffering to the victims and their loved ones, employers and UK society as a whole.

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