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DTI DRIVE TO HALT FIREWORK INJURIES

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In a bid to halt firework injuries which are expected to peak dramatically from this weekend, consumer affairs mini...
In a bid to halt firework injuries which are expected to peak dramatically from this weekend, consumer affairs minister Kim Howells launched the final phase of this year's firework safety

campaign - backed by the British Association of Plastic Surgeons.

Sparklers - which burn at up to 2,000 C and caused more injuries than any other firework last year - have been targeted in the department of

trade and industry campaign which is being supported by local councils

and fire brigades across Britain.

Dr Howells said: 'No responsible parent would let a young child near a

hot chip-pan, a lit barbecue or a boiling kettle - yet thousands

give their children sparklers to use unsupervised.

With millions of children enjoying half-term this week, and with the

knowledge that 75% of all firework injuries happen on 5 November and

the two surrounding weekends, I am appealing to parents to play their part and help keep all our children safe this Bonfire Night.'

This is one reason why this year the law requires that packets of sparklers carry the following message: Warning, not to be given to children under five years of age.

'Keep Sparklers in Safe Hands' is the theme of the£300,000 DTI campaign which includes four million leaflets distributed through primary schools, adverts in women's magazines targeted at mothers of young children, and extensive TV and radio advertising.

While firework injuries overall have dropped in recent years, injuries from sparklers have been on the increase. Last year sparklers caused

nearly a quarter of all firework injuries, accounting for 200 casualties - about 25 per cent being children aged five or under.

And in an effort to ram home the sparkler safety message, the British

Association of Plastic Surgeons is supporting the campaign. Nicholas

Parkhouse, a leading consultant plastic surgeon, said: 'Fireworks,

especially sparklers, can be great fun. And it is so easy to think of

them as toys, but no other toy I know burns at up to 2,000 C.

'As plastic surgeons, we treat some of the horrific consequences every year - the severe burn injuries, long-term scarring and even blindness. And we are still seeing these patients long after Bonfire Night as they endure months or years of surgery, physiotherapy, pain and discomfort.'

The sparkler safety theme is being taken up across the country with local councils and fire brigades receiving bulk supplies of campaign

posters and leaflets.

In addition, local council trading standards officers will also be helping to enforce firework regulations which, for the first time this year, include a total ban on the sale of all bangers, mini-rockets and aerial shells to the general public. The minimum age of sale of fireworks, including sparklers, is now 18 and retailers are no longer able to split retail packs of fireworks.

NOTES

1. The Department of Trade and Industry has been working over the past

several months with the Child Accident Prevention Trust, local councils including education, trading standards and environmental health departments, fire brigades and the fireworks industry to make sure that firework safety remains a priority.

2. For further information on the British Association of Plastic Surgeons or to interview a consultant plastic surgeon, contact

James Threapleton or Nik Ellis on 0171 878 3000.

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