Fes­tive fire­works warn­ing is­sued

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - STAFF RE­PORTER

Af­ter what was un­doubt­edly a tough year for many, we are all look­ing for­ward to some rest and re­lax­ation dur­ing the up­com­ing fes­tive sea­son. Di­wali, the cel­e­bra­tion of light, and Guy Fawkes were re­cently cel­e­brated across South Africa, with other cel­e­bra­tory events such as New Year’s Day still ahead of us.

Over and above friends and family gath­er­ings, dec­o­ra­tions, won­der­ful food and mu­sic, there is one thing that can be univer­sally as­so­ci­ated with many cel­e­bra­tions – fire­works. “The dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with the use of fire­works can­not be em­pha­sised enough,” says René Grob­ler, trauma pro­gramme man­ager at Net­care Mil­park Hospi­tal.

“In­juries caused by fire­works range from mi­nor scrapes to se­vere burn wounds and am­pu­ta­tions and, in many cases, those hurt are chil­dren un­der the age of 15,” she adds.

In the last two weeks alone, two young boys made na­tional head­lines af­ter they sus­tained se­vere in­juries in fire­work re­lated ac­ci­dents. The one boy’s hand was am­pu­tated af­ter he lit a fire­cracker he found in his sis­ter’s room while the other boy sus­tained mas­sive fa­cial in­juries when a fire­cracker ex­ploded in his face dur­ing this year’s Di­wali cel­e­bra­tions.

“Peo­ple tend to for­get that fire­works are in essence ex­plo­sive de­vices and that they should there­fore be used with ex­treme cau­tion,” says Grob­ler.

Fur­ther­more, fire­works can have an ex­tremely stressful ef­fect on an­i­mals and pets.

Al­though strict laws ex­ist un­der the rel­e­vant sec­tions of the Ex­plo­sives Act, the un­law­ful sale and use of fire­works re­mains a big prob­lem.

“If you buy fire­works, re­mem­ber that only li­censed fire­work deal­ers are au­tho­rised to sell [them] to the pub­lic and they can eas­ily be iden­ti­fied by large signs stat­ing “dealer in fire­works” dis­played in their stores,” says Grob­ler.

Steer clear of fire­works with names such as “In­dian Kings”, “Classic Foils”, “Square Bombs” and "Cherry Bombs”. These are il­le­gal fire­works and the pub­lic is urged to im­me­di­ately re­port the sell­ers to the po­lice.

Grob­ler pro­vided some tips on how to use fire­works safely: • Only use fire­works in des­ig­nated ar­eas set out by your lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity. • Read the in­struc­tions on the pack­ag­ing of fire­works and make sure that you fol­low them. These can in­clude in­struc­tions on how to prop­erly light and dis­card used fire­works safely. • Never light fire­works in­doors. Fire­works should only be used out­side in an open area away from build­ings. • Make sure you wear pro­tec­tive safety glasses and gloves when op­er­at­ing fire­works. • Al­ways have a fire ex­tin­guisher and a bucket of wa­ter nearby when light­ing fire­works. • Never at­tempt to make your own fire­works and never light fire­works if you sus­pect that they are home­made. • Never fire­works. • Never try to re­light fire­works that fail to ig­nite as they could still re­act to resid­ual heat and may well ex­plode while you are han­dling them. Even when all the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions have been taken, ac­ci­dents can still hap­pen and you also need to pre­pare for such an even­tu­al­ity. • Make sure that you have a first aid kit nearby at all times and have emer­gency numbers saved on your phone in case you need it.

“When some­one is hurt by fire­works, ini­ti­ate first aid im­me­di­ately and phone an emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vice provider such as Net­care 911 (082 911) for pro­fes­sional as­sis­tance,” Grob­ler cau­tions.

“The most com­mon fire­work in­juries are burns. While you wait for the am­bu­lance, run the wound un­der cold wa­ter.

“Do not ap­ply any oint­ments to the wound. If a wound is bleed­ing, put pres­sure on [it] and cover it with a towel or a piece of fabric to slow down bleed­ing,” she con­cluded. al­low chil­dren near

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