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England’s top children’s doc is encouraging people to enjoy Bonfire Night and Diwali safely as the celebrations return following COVID restrictions last year.
Professor Simon Kenny, paediatric surgeon and the NHS’s national clinical director for children and young people, is urging the public to be extra careful when handling fireworks or sparklers this winter, especially if children or young people are nearby.
This comes after latest data shows that in 2020/21, there were more than 100 hospital admissions of people injured by fireworks.
Some 21 of the 116 admissions involved children aged 14 or under, with nine aged between one and four.
Professor Simon Kenny, NHS national clinical director for children and young people, said: “Bonfire Night and Diwali are great opportunities to celebrate, but we want everyone to enjoy them safely and children may not always realise the risks posed by fireworks, bonfires and sparklers.
“So if you are attending or hosting a firework display it’s really important to take care and ensure that youngsters are properly supervised.
“And please make sure you know what to do if an accident does occur, whether that is applying basic first aid yourself, consulting 111 online for less serious injuries or calling 999 where it is life-threatening”.
Eleanor Mason became an ambassador for the Children’s Burns Trust after her four-year-old daughter, Rosie-May, was hit by a firework that had gone astray on Bonfire Night 2017.
The little girl spent five weeks in hospital being treated for serious burns to her neck and had to undergo a skin graft taken from her scalp. The family are now raising awareness about firework safety and the importance of first aid.
Speaking of the moment Rosie-May was hit by a firework, Eleanor said: “The fear on her face and the other children will stay with me forever. We were sent to a specialist burns unit where she endured five weeks in hospital, followed by weekly visits for dressing changes.
She added: “Rosie-May’s scar on her neck reminds us of that horrific night and I think it’s so important for people to know what we went through as a family to raise awareness of firework safety”.
The Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) publishes tips for firework safety and is encouraging the public, especially families with young children, to remember the Stop, Drop and Roll technique.
If clothes do catch fire, CAPT recommends you stop whatever you are doing, drop to the ground and cover your face with your hands, and roll over and over to put out the flames.
Katrina Phillips, Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) said: “With many organised displays cancelled again this year, it’s understandable if parents want to bring some magic into their children’s lives with fireworks at home.
“Unfortunately, it’s really easy to buy fireworks that aren’t suited to a family garden. Even sparklers burn 16 times hotter than a kettle and, if the worst does happen, many parents don’t know how best to react.
“Our new fireworks advice hub helps families buy safe and stay safe for Bonfire Night and Diwali”.
These safety warnings come as the NHS is facing a winter like no other, with more people predicted to suffer from flu and hospitals already treating an increased number of COVID patients.
Data from September showed that the NHS was already experiencing record demand for emergency services, with ambulances responding to 76,000 life-threatening incidents and call handlers taking more than one million 999 calls.