FIREWORKS are now officially on sale - and buyers are urged to use them safely.
The Government's Trade and Industry Department has joined forces with national charity the Child Accident Prevention Trust to launch a series of TV adverts, reminding parents of the dangers of fireworks - particularly the seemingly innocent sparkler.
Despite a 25% fall in firework injuries last year, hospitals still treated 88 children under five. Also, 132 people were injured by sparklers, which can reach temperatures up to 1000ºC.
Teenagers planning mischief with fireworks this year were also warned that they could end up in casualty.
As part of the safety campaign, packs have been sent to 25,000 schools nationwide, containing teaching materials about the safe use of fireworks.
The campaign follows plans for new Government powers to curb the use of fireworks.
The Fireworks Act will allow the Government to set a curfew for firework use of 11pm (except New Year's Eve).
There will also be a noise limit and tighter import controls.
Retailers will need a licence to sell fireworks and can only do so for the three weeks before November 5.
Anyone selling them all year will need a special licence.
John Woodhead, of Huddersfield, chairman of the British Firework Association, is working with the Government on the new laws.
He advised people to buy fireworks only from registered shops, rather than from stalls, pubs or other illegal outlets.
He said: "Resist that temptation. They may be cheap, but in the long run they will cost you. They probably haven't been tested and might be unsafe.
"If they are and anyone gets hurt, it is almost certain there will be no product insurance. Also, it is illegal to sell fireworks from anywhere other then registered premises. You would be condoning an illegal act."
Mr Woodhead added: "There is no reason why people shouldn't go to a proper shop. Fireworks are safer then they have ever been."
He said tonnes of fireworks imported legally find their way into warehouses and outlets which are not registered.
Mr Woodhead echoed the DTI and Child Accident Prevention Trust's advice about sparklers.
He said: "Make sure kids are supervised and wearing gloves. Have a bucket of water ready for when the sparkler is finished."
Speaking about other fireworks, he said people who followed the instructions should stay safe.
He said: "People who act responsibly won't have problems. Buy fireworks of a size to suit your garden and take advice from the retailer. If in doubt, err on the side of caution."
Other tips about fireworks and sparklers include:
Only light one at a time; hold sparklers at arms length; keep children well back from bonfires or fireworks; never let a child run with a sparkler; give them gloves and make sure their clothing is not long and flowing - it could easily catch fire.
If people are burned, cool the burn with cold water for 10 minutes. Do not touch it but cover it with clean, non-fluffy material, such as clingfilm.
If clothing catches fire, get the person to stop, drop to the ground and roll them in heavy material.
Always seek medical advice.
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