It’s almost time for that one night of the year when things go bang, and everyone seems to get up to some kind of mischief. Yes, Guy Fawkes is almost upon us and whether you celebrate it in the Traditional British Bonfire style or give it a more local and lekker flavour, one thing is for certain – there will be no designated areas for fireworks.
Improper use of fireworks is illegal and it is important to remind everyone about their City’s strict fireworks regulations. So you might have to light a few sparklers to get the party started or maybe just have a good old fashioned braai in the backyard and invite your community to tell their most rebellious and mischievous stories. It’s an idea. Maybe it will spark more ideas. And more.
The cracker conundrum
To say that fireworks are dangerous is, of course, to state the obvious. What isn’t quite so obvious, though, is the fact that ‘smaller doesn’t necessarily mean safer’. It’s easy (and quite natural) to fall into the trap of thinking that the real danger lies with the biggies, but it’s simply not true: it’s the smaller fireworks – the bottle rockets and firecrackers – that actually account for the majority of all firework-related injuries.
Take sparklers, for instance. They’re pretty much a must-have at any bonfire; a bit of harmless fun that many people – especially children – love to play with. But when you realise that a sparkler can reach temperatures of 1000-1600°C (that’s 15 times hotter than boiling water, hot enough to melt gold!), they suddenly seem less harmless. A single slip can result in serious injury – a fact, which is reflected in the statistic, that (according to National Fire Protection Association UK) around 30% of firework injuries are to the hands or fingers. As children’s hands are relatively small, these injuries can often mean the loss of fingers – or even worse.
That’s not to say the bigger fireworks are less of a risk, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Large rockets, for example, can reach speeds of up to 150mph, making them, when lit, potentially deadly.
Minimise the bonfire night risks
Like everything in life, fireworks involve risk. But you can minimise that risk by obeying a few very basic rules. The first of these is that you should always try to attend a professionally organised event rather than buying your own fireworks. However, if you do prefer to organise your own fireworks party, remember to:
- Apply and get authorisation to do so by the Council (at least 14 days’ notice before the display is required by Council to consider such an application)
- Apply for authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Chief Inspector of Explosives. (Multiple fines of R 1 500 are applicable)
- At such a display (should permission be granted) a pyrotechnist and SA Police Services explosives expert must be present at all times. (R 1 500 fines)
- No person may deal in fireworks (sell or make available) unless they hold a fireworks licence in terms of the Explosives Act as well as the written authority of the Chief Fire Officer (R 1 500 fine).
- Wear gloves when holding sparklers
- No person may light or ignite fireworks in any place where animals are present (R 1 000 fine). This includes domestic homes
- No person may allow any minor (child) under his or her control to “use, light or ignite” fireworks (R 1 500 fine). No exceptions to this rule
- No person may use fireworks on any agricultural holding or at any school or senior citizens’ residence without special Council authorisation ( R 1 000 to R 1 500 fine). This authorisation must be sought well in advance of intended day
- No person can use fireworks within 500 metres of any petrol depot or petrol station without special Council authorisation ( R 1 500 fine)
- Always supervise children throughout the display, especially when they have sparklers
- Keep fireworks in the box, do not carry them in your pockets
- Light fireworks using a lighting wand, and don’t put any part of your body over the firework
- Don’t return to a firework that did not ignite – and never try to relight or pick it up
- Dispose of used sparklers in a bucket of sand or water
- Have a hosepipe or water available to put out any mishaps or to douse used fireworks
Accidents can and will happen – prepare for them with Burnshield
By following the firework safety tips above, you’ll be able to minimise the risk of mishaps. But accidents happen. And as – by definition – no accident is planned, it’s best to plan for the unexpected.
Having a well-stocked first aid kit on-site, which includes emergency burn care products, is highly recommended. Why? Because a burn can take a second to occur and a lifetime to heal if not treated immediately and properly. Burnshield Hydrogel significantly reduces the damage associated with all types of burns. It cools and soothes while minimising:
- Skin damage
- Burn depth
- Pain and shock
- Bacterial growth
The gel structure quickly absorbs and dissipates heat within any affected tissue, minimising burn damage. The product’s high water content effectively transfers heat through evaporation, thereby providing effective cooling while minimising pain and shock.
Burnshield includes a wide range of products, such as sprays, dressings, blankets and kits, for different burns and sections of the body. They are available for a full range of environments – from domestic use to the Emergency Services. Why not have a browse and see what works for you? https://www.burnshield.com/products/burnshield/
Finally, we hope you have a great time on Guy Fawkes – but, above all, please be careful. And be prepared.
*Burnshield does not promote the use of fireworks in this article.
https://www.steroplast.co.uk/content/bonfire-night/. (2019). Bonfire Night – Have fun, but stay safe! Journal title (in italics).