Partners from the Staffordshire Local Resilience Forum (LRF) have issued a plea to residents to take extra care when celebrating Halloween and Bonfire Night this autumn.
We ask people to think twice about whether they need to have a display at home. If they choose to do so, we ask them to plan very carefully and ensure they buy suitable, legal fireworks with the printed CE safety mark from a licensed supplier or authorised retailer. They must also have sufficient space to hold a display and follow instructions and the firework code to make their celebration as safe as possible.
The pandemic and government restrictions on social gatherings have put a halt to traditional trick or treating and organised firework displays and people are being encouraged to find alternative ways of marking these calendar events safely and practically.
County Councillor Johnny McMahon, Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing at Staffordshire County Council said: “With Covid-19 still circulating in our communities, it is clear that Halloween and Bonfire will be very different this year. We all need to do everything we can to stop the spread, so that means following the rules regarding face coverings, social distancing, and gatherings.
“We want to discourage traditional trick or treat activities this year. There’s lots of alternative activities families can do instead of traditional trick or treating, such as spooky movie nights, decorating their homes, carving pumpkins, or even pumpkin-spotting in their local neighbourhoods. This way, we can still enjoy Halloween, but keep each other safe at the same time.”
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service are also highlighting the dangers of fireworks as restrictions mean more families may try to hold displays at home.
Between 2014 and 2019 there were more than 1,000 severe burn injuries involving fireworks in England and Wales, with 38 per cent of these in youngsters under the age of 15.
Dermot Hogan, Head of Central Prevent and Protect, said: “Bonfire Night and the days surrounding it can be busy for our firefighters. Normally we advise people to attend a professionally organised display because we know they are much safer with few significant injuries occurring and first aid on hand.
“The pandemic means more families may try to hold displays at home, perhaps without the experience of having ever handled fireworks before.
“We ask people to think twice about whether they need to have a display at home. If they choose to do so, we ask them to plan very carefully and ensure they buy suitable, legal fireworks with the printed CE safety mark from a licensed supplier or authorised retailer. They must also have sufficient space to hold a display and follow instructions and the firework code to make their celebration as safe as possible.”
Staffordshire Police is asking that people apply common sense and avoid anything that goes against government restrictions and health advice in their area.
Tom Chisholm, Head of Neighbourhood said: “We will be a visible presence in local communities throughout Halloween and Bonfire Night and we are asking people to adhere to current government guidelines.
“Any planned event can only be organised by certain organisations or businesses and must have a thorough Covid risk assessment that is approved by the local authority. Anyone who plans an unauthorised events can face a fine of £10,000.
The Force is also urging young people to be respectful of other people in the community and not to get involved in anti-social behaviour.
“We are also asking parents to ensure children are responsible throughout this period and are aware of the dangers of fireworks. They are explosives and potentially dangerous so they should not be messed with.”
All partners will be communicating safety messages on social media channels to continue to raise awareness amongst the community.