By Julie Curtis, Administration Manager and Health, Safety and Wellbeing Representative
November has certainly arrived quickly and while we could do with putting off darker nights and dropping temperatures, on Tuesday we welcome Bonfire Night!
Every year we welcome fantastic firework displays and bonfire events across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands, and whether you’re attending one of these or hosting your own get together, here are my top safety tips for keeping children safe:
- If you’re hosting your own display, be sure to only buy fireworks marked with the ‘BS7114’ kitemark, and keep them locked away and out of children's reach
- Always keep a bucket of cold water nearby, and pop any used sparklers straight into it – they can still burn once they’ve gone out
- Ensure children and young people are not wearing loosely-fitted clothing which could blow in the wind
- Don’t be tempted to feed the bonfire with any spirits or paraffin – use firelighters to grow the fire steadily and safely
- Keep one, identifiable person in charge of lighting all fireworks so that children and adults alike know who should be lighting them and who shouldn’t
- Ensure you have a first aid box with you or in the property, just in case, and make sure children know what to do in an emergency
I also think it’s important to remember that not all children and young people enjoy bonfire night. Some children may fear the noise or feel overwhelmed by hustle and bustle, along with unexpected fireworks and rockets. Autism.org states that ‘the unexpected nature of displays can cause anxiety and stress, and for those with sensory issues, fireworks can be very disturbing.’
If your family need to create a balance for all family members to be happy on the night, here are some additional tips, courtesy of Autism.org (2019):
- Watch from a distance. Is there a room in the house where you can see fireworks across the skyline from far away?
- Check with your local authority. In recent years, more local authorities have started planning events specifically for different types of people with certain conditions or disabilities, and these may well provide a less-crowded situation for autistic children
- Keep food and treats available that might aid as a distraction or as a comfort, such as a favourite toy or game, a hot chocolate or some sweets
- Some ear defenders are created to block out noises while allowing speech to be heard – these might be a good investment for children and young people who feel anxious by the unpredictable noise of fireworks
- Lastly, if you are happy to miss the event, have a family movie night! Get some popcorn on the go, turn the volume up and relax.
Whatever is right for you and your family, even if it's another 'normal' night for you, we wish you all a wonderful and safe evening. The Christmas countdown has certainly begun!