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Remember, remember… the impact of fireworks

While fireworks can be great fun, they can be dangerous if not used properly. During the bonfire season, most firework injuries treated at emergency departments happen at informal private displays. Over half of those requiring treatment are children.

Rockets are responsible for the majority of serious eye and hand injuries, however sparklers, fountains and firecrackers are also frequent sources of injury.

David McGill, Lead Clinician for the Care of Burns in Scotland (COBIS) network and Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Scotland’s Burn Hub said: “Unfortunately we see a rise in burn injuries around Bonfire Night, in both adults and children. We carry out an annual audit of firework injuries across Scotland, and last year there were 41 injuries recorded over the four-week period around Guy Fawkes night.

“The majority of these occurred at private properties. Injuries reported ranged from minor, such as burns to the fingers, to severe including loss of fingers and complex eye injuries with loss of vision.

“Children are frequently burned with sparklers. There’s a misunderstanding of how hot they can get. They can cause severe burns to fingers and hands, or catch clothing alight. Sparklers should never be given to children under the age of five.

“Great care should be taken around fireworks, especially when children are near. To minimise the risks to you and your family, a publicly arranged event would be by far the safest way to view fireworks.”

This Bonfire Night make sure you know the law and rules around the use of fireworks, which are in place to reduce incidents and injury:

  • It is illegal to set off fireworks in public places, including streets and parks.
  • It is illegal to buy, attempt to buy, give or in any way make a firework available to someone under the age of 18, other than category F1 fireworks.
  • It is illegal to set fireworks off before 6pm and after 11pm. This extends to midnight on 5th November and 1am on Hogmanay, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
  • It’s safer to celebrate at an organised event if there’s one in your area, but if you’re planning a private display at home, make sure you know how to keep you and your loved ones safe:
  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Not all fireworks are suitable for private use. It depends on the size of your garden. Visit for more safety advice and to download our leaflet.
  • It’s important to think of others and be aware of the impact fireworks can have on those around you. The loud and sudden noises can be distressing for those with sensory impairment, and pet owners know only too well the distress they can cause animals. If you are worried about an animal call 03000 999 999.

Enjoy fireworks safely. For more advice visit

To report the misuse of fireworks anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.