NORTHERN Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is calling on the community to be aware of potential fire hazards and to keep themselves safe while celebrating this Halloween.
Last Halloween (31 October 2018), NIFRS attended 127 incidents – a 7% decrease on incidents attended the previous year. 42% of the incidents attended were deliberate fires.
Gerry Lennon, Group Commander, NIFRS, said: “We are pleased to see a decrease in the number of incidents NIFRS attended last Halloween, but it is disappointing that nearly half of the incidents were deliberately set fires.
“Deliberate fires pose a serious risk to life, property and the environment and they put extra pressure on NIFRS resources which could result in a delay in getting to a real emergency. We are asking people not to engage in this type of anti-social behaviour.
“It is also important to be aware of any potential fire hazards while celebrating. Fireworks and sparklers are good fun at Halloween, but without proper supervision they can cause serious injury.
“To a young child, the heat from a sparkler is equivalent to the heat from a welding torch. Please ensure that fireworks and sparklers are used safely and in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
“We would also like to remind parents of the potential dangers when their children are wearing fancy dress costumes, either shop bought or home-made.
“Make sure that children are properly supervised at all times; keep them away from fireworks, or open flames such as candles, pumpkins with candles in them and bonfires. If their costume catches fire remember STOP, DROP and ROLL to quickly extinguish the flames.
“We want everyone to have a fun and enjoyable Halloween and to put safety first and be aware of additional fire hazards at this time of year.”
NIFRS Halloween Safety Advice
It is compulsory for anyone wishing to buy or use fireworks to obtain a license. The fee for a Fireworks License is £30 (if under 100 people attending) and application forms can be obtained from www.nidirect.gov.uk (search Fireworks).
Only buy fireworks marked with a CE mark – this shows fireworks meet European Safety Standards.
Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
Keep fireworks in a closed box when not in use and keep away from ignition sources.
Follow the manufacturer’s advice on each firework and use them one at a time.
Light them at arm’s length using a taper. Stand well back.
Never go near a firework that has been lit, even if it hasn’t gone off as it could still explode.
Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them.
Always supervise children around fireworks.
Keep pets and animals indoors – the flames and noise upset them.
Don’t set off noisy fireworks late at night and never after 11pm.
Sparklers are often viewed as being harmless but they do burn at fierce temperatures.
Store sparklers in a closed box in a cool, dry place.
Always light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves, keeping them at arm’s length.
Never hold a baby or child if you have a sparkler in your hand.
Plunge finished sparklers hot end down into a bucket of water as soon as they have burnt out. Sparklers stay hot for a long time.
Don’t take sparklers to public displays. It will be too crowded to use them safely.
Never give sparklers to under 5s – they will not understand how to use them safely.
Always supervise children using sparklers, give children woollen gloves to wear and teach them how to use them properly.
Children’s Fancy Dress Costumes:
If your child is wearing a fancy dress costume this Halloween –
· Keep children away from naked flames – avoid using a naked flame or candle in pumpkins; use a torch, glow stick or battery operated candle.
· Stop, Drop and Roll if clothing does catch on fire – to try to extinguish the flames and also to stop the flames from rising towards the face.
· Choose a costume and mask that doesn’t restrict a child’s visibility or vision.
· Wear woollen tights or ‘heavy’ trousers (jeans) and a woollen jumper under the costume.
· Ensure children are well supervised at all times.
· Look out for Costumes that are labelled ‘Low Flammability’ ‘BS5722’ or have the European code ‘BS EN 14878’ which meets the higher standard of The Nightware (Safety) Regulations 1985.