Think of those around you this Bonfire Night

With Bonfire Night approaching, a new campaign aims to raise awareness of the potentially damaging impact the legitimate use of fireworks can have on those around you – such as those with noise sensitivity, including autistic people, veterans and animals.

By Kevin McRoberts
Monday, 28th October 2019, 9:02 am
People are being encouraged to attend one of the many public Bonfire Night displays across the country, instead of holding their own fireworks party.
People are being encouraged to attend one of the many public Bonfire Night displays across the country, instead of holding their own fireworks party.

The Impact of Fireworks campaign urges people to think of others and to stay safe by attending a local organised event.

Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s director of prevention and protection, said: “While we want people to enjoy and celebrate Bonfire Night, we’d encourage everyone to leave the fireworks to the experts and find an organised display nearby.

“If you’re not attending a public display, it’s imperative that you follow the fireworks code.

“Sparklers are also very popular at this time of year. They’re very hot and stay hot for a long time after they’ve been extinguished.

“Our website has safety advice for anyone thinking of purchasing sparklers or fireworks.

“The fifth of November is our busiest night of the year by up to four times.

“By attending an official display, you can help ensure our resources aren’t delayed for someone who really needs our assistance.”

Fireworks can raise background noise levels by several decibels which can cause particular distress to those with noise sensitivity, including autistic people.

The unexpected nature of private firework displays can also cause anxiety and stress.

Bonfire night can be an especially difficult time for many veterans with the loud bangs, bright lights and strong smells from fireworks causing serious anguish.

And the fear response to noise from fireworks can have an adverse impact on animals and can lead to stress, fear or even phobia responses. It’s estimated that 45 per cent of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks.

Fiona Clarke, an autistic person living in Scotland, has supported the campaign. She said: “I think visually fireworks are a sensory delight and portray celebration, but for some people with and even without sensory issues, 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 some autistic people difficulty with fireworks, as some may simply not understand what Bonfire Night is or what to expect.

“I think this campaign is very important in raising awareness of the negative impact fireworks could have on others and encouraging people to be more mindful of that by attending local organised fireworks displays.”

Gilly Mendes Ferreira, Scottish SPCA head of education and policy, added: “For years we have supported tighter restrictions on public use due to the stress and anxiety caused to animals.

“Most calls report animals being injured trying to escape the noise of fireworks, including dogs running on to roads and being hit by oncoming traffic, swans flying into electricity pylons and horses being badly hurt after running through barbed wire fences.

“We will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government to improve animal welfare surrounding the use of fireworks.”

For more information on fireworks safety and organised displays in your area, go to Fire Scotland: Fireworks Safety