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Wednesday, 01 July 2015

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Time to pour cold water on sale of fireworks

SO tonight is “Guy Fawkes night”, Bonfire Night, firework night, call it what you will.

EM Darren McSweeney
Darren McSweeney

In the past it has had even more names, been referred to in acts of parliament and had a dark history that spans from the catching of a terrorist to being a focal point for anti-Catholic hatred.

All of this descended from the failure of a man trying to blow up the houses of parliament – I often wonder if given today’s contempt for politicians we might celebrate more if he’d succeeded!

The age old debate is reignited every year around the sale of, the use of and more worryingly, the misuse of fireworks. By misuse, I can also include the lighting of fireworks seemingly many weeks preceding and after today, although this isn’t technically a crime.

We now have “licensed” shops that can legally sell fireworks all year round, alongside the “registered” outlets that are limited to October 15 to November 10.

Two weeks ago, the residents of Newbarns were treated to a 2.30am crescendo of explosives – I heard a story of a forces lad on home leave jumping out of his bed thinking he was back in Camp Bastion, it really was that loud.

There are, of course, other dates in our calendar that are served by the legal selling of fireworks, these being Diwali, Chinese New Year and New Year’s Eve.

All of these have a cut-off time for detonation of 1am, so our Newbarns pyrotechnician must have been celebrating something completely different.

It’s quite hard to believe that in these days of “health and safety gone mad”, and with practically everything tied up in red tape, that we can actually buy fireworks at all, never mind consider lighting them. Advances have been made in firework safety over the years, but they can still be dangerous despite the best of planning.

The Department of Trade and Industry and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents no longer collect or publish firework accident statistics, but the number of accidents was static at around the 1,000 mark for the last 10 years or so that the data was published (up to 2005).

A deeper look into the stats shows that more worryingly, the majority of these happen at family or private parties.

Of even greater concern is nearly 30 per cent of these accidents involve eye injuries. Eyes tend to be a bit more susceptible to damage than say, fingers. Living without a couple of fingers is a whole different outcome to living without a couple of eyes. I’d say 1,000 accidents is 1,000 too many, let’s stop the sale of fireworks, restrict them to professional displays and let RAF guys get a decent night’s sleep on leave!

Have your say

There you are, Darren, you want children to be safe so you must be a socialist!

Posted by RC30 on 8 November 2012 at 11:39

they have been letting off fireworks since Friday 4 days of it too much i think.

Posted by Tony in Islington on 5 November 2012 at 19:18

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