Top doctor says people will still defy safety advice on Bonfire Night

Fireworks: Creative Commons Photograph by Peter Roome

The country’s top emergency doctor has warned people are still failing to heed Bonfire Night safety advice as hospitals continue to treat people who start fires with highly flammable liquids or handle lit fireworks.

Dr John Heyworth, emergency department consultant at Southampton General Hospital and president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said: “Despite all of the warnings, Bonfire Night is still an event where people think the advice doesn’t apply to them and they take huge risks.

“Every year we see people who have fiddled with lit fireworks if they haven’t gone off, thrown fireworks at each other or poured highly flammable liquids to get their bonfires started.”

He said staff in the emergency department continue to see significant burns and cuts to the face and hands every year and, while most injuries aren’t life threatening, facial burns can be disfiguring and can affect sight.

“These injuries tend to be burns to the face, which are extremely painful, can affect sight and may lead to permanent scarring, and significant injuries to the hands where people have picked up fireworks that haven’t gone off.

“The frustration is that the avoidance of the injuries we see is so straightforward and simple that if people adhered to advice, they would be completely safe and free to have fun.”

Dr Heyworth said organised events have helped to reduce the number of incidents and provide a safer environment for members of the public.

“Organised fireworks are fantastically spectacular, great fun and have reduced the number of incidents as people are less inclined to run their own displays, so we favour these where possible.”

Posted on Wednesday 3 November 2010