Safety Tips for Halloween Fireworks

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(The Vancouver Sun, October 21, 2002)

Dear Teresa: This year my two nephews, ages 8 and 12 years old, are spending Halloween with my husband and I. Our plan is to take them out trick or treating and maybe check out some fireworks our neighbours are displaying. I’m a little concerned about my oldest nephew’s enthusiasm about the fireworks. He is already talking about knowing how to set them off himself. Despite this one concern, I love Halloween. Since we don’t have any children of our own, I’m really looking forward to it. I wondered if you knew of any other fun things to check out or safety tips you could pass along- especially about the fireworks. Thanks in advance.

Aunt Barb, Burnaby, BC

Dear Aunt Barb: I too love Halloween – except for the part where I single handedly polish off 2-3 bags of chocolate bought originally to hand out to kids. Just to make sure your Halloween goes off without a hitch, here are some safety tips to keep in mind and a couple of fun, ghoulish events your nephews might like.

Fireworks. As you probably know, firecrackers (the loud blasting ones kids light off in the streets) are strictly illegal to sell, purchase, or discharge. So keep your nephews far away from them. As for fireworks, they are divided into two basic categories: display or high hazard fireworks and family or consumer fireworks. Display fireworks require a Fire & Rescue Services Permit issued by a Fire Chief. These include fireworks like aerial shells, mines, and large roman candles among others. They are extremely dangerous if the person setting them off doesn’t know what they are doing. They usually require taking a course to receive a permit. Family/consumer fireworks are legal to purchase and discharge on Halloween by an adult aged 19 years or older. These include fireworks such as fountains, volcanoes, pinwheels, sparklers, and smaller roman candles. However, just because they are legal doesn’t make them safe. Every year hundreds of fireworks related injuries are treated in our emergency rooms. Over half the injured treated are under the age of 14 years old. In addition, twice as many are boys. Though illegal, the most common firework related injury is due to firecrackers, with rockets and sparklers holding a close second and third. The most common form of injury is an eye injury- sometimes causing blindness. The second and third most common types of injury are to the hands and face. Every year someone loses a hand and several receive severe burns and lacerations. Most often injuries are due to kids leaning over a firework, a firework going off in someone’s hand, or clothing igniting. Some prevention tips:

  • Do not let under age kids near them. You must be 19 years of age to purchase and discharge fireworks.
  • Do not set off fireworks near flammable objects like leaves, or flammable costumes.
  • Never bend over a firework once ignited- even to see why it is not working.
  • Do not ignite a firework in glass or metal containers. Stick to dry, flat, open surfaces free of debris.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby.
  • Do not carry fireworks in your pockets.
  • Remember the stop, drop and roll technique if needed.

If you want more information contact the Vancouver Fire Prevention Office at # 604-873-7595. The BC Professional Fire Fighters put out an educational video to warn kids about playing with firecrackers. You can check out how to get one by logging on to www.burnfund.org.
For trick or treat safety tips:

  • Take kids out with an adult supervising.
  • Make sure there is something reflective on costumes like reflective tape or fabric paint.
  • Beware of flammable costumes. Most homes have candles in their jack-o-lanterns.
  • Throw away any home made acquired treats or treats where the wrapping may be easily tampered with.
  • Bring a flashlight.
  • Do not enter homes.

If you want to check out something fun, I would go for ride on the Ghost Train at Stanley Park. It runs 7 days a week from 6:30-10pm. The cost is $4. Another personal favourite is the Pumpkin Patch at Richmond Country Farms located at 12900 Steveston Highway in Richmond. Admission is $6 for anyone older then 2 years of age. It includes, a band for the kids, corn maze, hayride and the pumpkin patch. Pumpkins are a bargain at $2 each. They are open Friday 6:30-8:00, and Saturday/Sunday 10am-5pm. Hope this helps and you have a wonderful and safe Halloween!