Doctors raise concerns over DIY firework displays

Medics have urged people to think twice before buying their own fireworks.

A fireworks display
A fireworks display

Doctors have raised concerns about the prospect of people injuring themselves with DIY firework displays.

Many traditional Bonfire Night displays have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Medics who deal with reconstructive surgery and those who care for patients with hand and burn injuries have urged people to think twice before purchasing fireworks for use at home.

A survey of 1,200 British adults, conducted by the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (Bapras), found that 37% were considering putting on a display at home.

Surgeons have raised concerns that the number of A&E visits attributable to fireworks could drastically rise as a result of DIY displays this year.

Mark Henley, consultant plastic surgeon and president of Bapras, said: “Every November, plastic surgeons across the UK witness serious injuries caused by fireworks, with many patients requiring multiple rounds of complex reconstructive surgery.

“With the NHS stretched to capacity due to Covid-19 and a huge backlog for surgical procedures, we simply cannot afford for an increase in preventable injuries and urge people to think twice before purchasing fireworks for personal use.”

Bapras said there should be graphic warning labels on firework packaging, highlighting the risk of serious injury which can occur.

David Warwick, president of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand, said: “Firework-related injuries have become an all-too-familiar sight for hand surgeons, the repercussions of which can be devastating, with some even resulting in amputation.

“It is vital to remember that these injuries are preventable, particularly during a time where NHS efforts are already under increasing strain.

“We therefore strongly advise anyone considering holding their own displays at home this year to postpone their celebrations.”

Professor Kayvan Shokrollahi, deputy chair of the British Burn Association, said: “We wish to highlight that the pandemic presents a potential double-whammy: an increase in use of garden fireworks due to a lack of organised firework displays and a health service under unprecedented strain.

“My advice to the general public is to be extra cautious this year for Bonfire Night, Diwali and new year celebrations.”

London Fire Brigade has also called on people to “think twice” about holding a firework display or building a garden bonfire.

The brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety Paul Jennings said: “Think about your neighbours, particularly older people or those who are self-isolating, pets and of course those of us in the emergency services.

“Despite our warning, if you do choose to have your own display, never drink alcohol and set off fireworks, keep fireworks in a closed metal box and only ever buy ones with the British standard kite mark.

“Bonfires should be clear of buildings, sheds, fences and hedges. Bonfires in your back garden can especially be dangerous.

“This time of year is usually one of the busiest for firefighters and control officers and we also need to support our NHS colleagues, so please help us by keeping yourself safe.”

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