Guy Fawkes Night is again upon us, many schools, sports grounds and parks will be hosting their annual bonfire events over the weekend of the 5th November. Many Brits love to gather for an evening of fireworks, hot dogs and mulled wine, but it is important to remember that working with fireworks holds various unforeseen risks and can be extremely dangerous.
Here are some health and safety tips for those involved in the firework displays around November 5th to ensure they avoid danger at all costs.
Those in charge of bonfire events need to make sure they plan it thoroughly and well in-advance so they are prepared for all outcomes.
There are many considerations you need to think about, such as what your contingency plan would be in adverse weather conditions, like strong winds or rain. If there is a heavy storm that is blowing a gale, you need to have a plan to protect guests and employees who will attend the display as well as those running it.
Attend a display – leave fireworks to the professionals
The best way to protect your family is to not use any fireworks at home. Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.
If you plan to use fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area.
Safety is paramount
It is also necessary to prepare the site well, checking it is large enough for the display and there is a safe and cordoned off area (fenced off) well away from the fireworks for the spectators to safely watch the display. This must be a safe distance away from any display.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also reminded organisers to “check in daylight for overhead power lines and other obstructions”. These might not be easily visible with the shorter days and in dark conditions, so to identify a safe place for letting off the display well beforehand is paramount.
Choose a reputable firework supplier
Operating fireworks is not a job that should be taken lightly, and you have a big responsibility when hosting a public display. Therefore, it is important you choose a trustworthy supplier for your fireworks.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) advises only buying x, and reading instructions on how to use each one thoroughly beforehand.
Fireworks should always be stored in a safe place in the days leading up to your event.
Have an emergency plan
Local authorities and organisers would be wise to have a robust emergency response plan should an incident occur during the display.
While these events are generally safe and well attended, there is always the possibility that something could not work as intended, due to several reasons such as:
If the fireworks are not set off correctly
Poor weather conditions
Therefore, it is wise to have an emergency plan in place which will outline the procedures to follow in the event of an incident. As part of this strategy, organisers should designate specific roles, for instance, the firework display operator needs to know what his or her job is if something goes wrong; those selling tickets should already have evacuation plans and health and safety procedures in place ensuring public safety.
Producing an emergency plan will help to ensure the public remains as safe as possible, and everyone knows their role and responsibilities if an incident and emergency need tackling.
Someone should also be given the responsibility for calling emergency services.
On-site medical & first aid response
Securing a medically trained first aid team or personnel on site is ideal, as they can quickly attend to injured parties if they need to. They will be able to provide interim care until medical assistance arrives. Also have plentiful water and buckets nearby is also advisable.
Keep safe after the display
Once the firework spectacle has finished, it is important to maintain health and safety procedures.
Also show some consideration by sticking to recommended timelines for firework displays showing some respect for those living nearby.
Secondly, ensure the bonfire has completely burnt out and the surroundings are safe, all spectators and staff have gone home before leaving the premises yourself.
Advice provided by Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service recommends leaving those devices that failed to explode in a bucket of water for three to four days. This will render them non-explosive, but they have to be soaked right through and immersed in a large volume of water, which may take several hours.
The same method of disposal can be used for those fireworks that did explode correctly. After this, they can be disposed of with general waste.
The morning after, the HSE advises to return to the site and check it thoroughly if safe to do so.
“Dispose of fireworks safely.” a spokesperson for the organisation went on to say.
If you are particularly worried about how to get rid of dud fireworks, you could get in touch with the supplier who might be able to dispose of them appropriately, the UK Fire Review suggests. Alternatively, you could call your local Fire Authority for more safety advice.