Discarded firework ‘risk’ revealed
Monday 4th November 2013, 12:10AM GMT.
Children are most at risk from firework injuries in the days after Bonfire Night, a burns expert has warned.
Picking up old, discarded, rockets or bangers lying on the ground can be enough to trigger a “bomb-like” explosion causing devastating hand and facial injuries, according to Julie Baker, ward manager at the Regional Burns Unit at The Children’s Hospital, Sheffield.
Miss Baker said the hospital treated three children last year who all suffered serious burn injuries after picking up old fireworks in the days after Bonfire Night.
She said parents and children need to be aware of the risk of handling old and discarded fireworks because of the devastating impact that firework injuries can cause.
“We now see a lot less firework injuries on Bonfire Night than we did 10 or 20 years ago, because most people now go to an organised display, where there are high safety standards,” Miss Baker said.
“But we now see the injuries in the days after Bonfire Night, when children have picked up old fireworks, which they’ve found lying on the ground, often after home firework displays.
“Most people are aware that you never attempt to relight a firework. But what people don’t realise is if an old firework has been on wet ground, it is still unsafe, as after a few days any remaining chemicals inside it, will have dried off.
“There is a lack of awareness that just picking up an old firework can be enough to reactivate these chemicals – and the effects can be devastating, resulting in an explosion, like a bomb going off.”
The unit saw three firework injuries last year after Bonfire Night, down from five in 2010. Most have been boys aged 10-15 years old, suffering hand and facial injuries.
The Children’s Hospital treats children from an area spanning South Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, North Nottinghamshire, North Derbyshire and across the Pennines to the North West.
Miss Baker said: “Burns damage the skin and can go very deeply into the muscles and tendons causing a lot of damage.
“It can take months to recover, as these are serious injuries. Some patients require an operation, as well as skin grafts, followed by physiotherapy and occupational therapy.”
In the run up to Bonfire Night, posters have been put up around The Children’s Hospital, to highlight to parents what to do if their child suffers a firework injury.
Miss Baker said: “I want to raise awareness that old and discarded fireworks can be very dangerous and they should never be picked up.
“If the worst happens and a child is burnt it’s important to apply only cool running water from the tap, or if there is no other water then the garden hose will do.
“Never use ice or any other substance – some people mistakenly think egg whites or butter are suitable for burns. Call an ambulance to get the person to hospital.”