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Scottish Government Viewpoint: Fireworks rules have changed

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Councillor Gwyneth Petrie (inset) is backing Scottish Government moves to restrict the sale and use of fireworks.
Councillor Gwyneth Petrie (inset) is backing Scottish Government moves to restrict the sale and use of fireworks.

There are new rules to lessen the negative impact of fireworks.

It is now illegal to set off fireworks before 6pm and after 11pm.

This extends to midnight on November 5 and 1am on Hogmanay, Chinese New Year and Diwali.

Fireworks can be great fun, but if not used correctly they’re dangerous:

  • During the bonfire season, 85 per cent of all firework injuries treated at emergency departments happen at informal private displays.
  • More than half of those requiring treatment are children.

If you plan on having your own private firework display this year it is important that you know the rules and how to keep you and your family safe:

  • Keep a safe distance – not all fireworks are suitable for private use. It depends on the size of your garden/area.
  • Follow the fireworks code – eg stand well back, never return to a firework before it’s been lit and read instructions before use.

Remember that for some of your neighbours, fireworks can be particularly distressing and frightening due to the loud and sudden noise.

Fiona Clarke, an autistic person living in Scotland, said: “Visually fireworks can be a sensory delight and portray celebration, but for some of us, the noise, flashes of light, together with the unpredictable nature of how long they will go on for, can be overwhelming.

“It’s not just sensory issues that can cause autistic people difficulty with fireworks, as some may simply not understand what Bonfire Night is or what to expect.

Many neighbourhood pets will also be distressed from the loud and sudden noise.

Scottish SPCA head of education, policy and research, Gilly Mendes Ferreira, said: ‘‘Every year thousands of animals suffer stress and anxiety caused by the use of fireworks.

“As animals have more acute hearing than humans, the loud and high pitched noises made by fireworks can cause animals to become fearful and distressed.

“Animals can panic and flee at the sound of the bang and this can lead them towards danger such as being the cause of a road traffic accident, also putting human lives at risk.

“We’d always encourage the public to attend organised displays. If you are going to hold a private display, let your neighbours know so they can safeguard against any distress pets and farm animals may face.”

Minister for community safety, Ash Denham, said: “The Scottish Government’s ambition is for all of Scotland’s communities to be safe places for everyone to live, work and enjoy.

“Fireworks can be hugely damaging and distressing and that is why it is now illegal for the general public to set off fireworks before 6pm and after 11pm. This is an important step forward in tackling the misuse of fireworks and I encourage anyone who witnesses or has information about criminality relating to fireworks to report it, so that action can be taken to prevent further harm to our communities.”

Deputy Assistant Chief Officer (DACO) Alasdair Perry is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s head of prevention and protection.

He said: “Anyone thinking of hosting a private event involving fire, flame or fireworks is asked to consider the risks.

“Those who choose to do so should familiarise themselves with the fireworks code and fire safety guidance.”

Visit www.firescotland.gov.uk for fireworks safety information.

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