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Be Safe Not Sorry 19 October 2004

The Office of Fair Trading, Fire Service and the Police are working together again this year to promote Fireworks Safety on the Island.

This year's key message to young people and parents is that Be Safe Not Sorry - Always Follow The Code.

The agencies are particularly keen to get the message out that children and fireworks are a dangerous mix. No-one under 18 can buy fireworks legally and yet, consistently in the UK, over half those suffering injuries each year are under 18. Young people on the Island have fared better over the years but the agencies are determined that we should not become complacent.

Posters are being issued to the secondary schools showing a young man with horrific injuries and the Police will go into the schools to talk to targeted groups about the dangers.

The campaign is also aimed at parents of younger children. A particularly troubling statistic is that in 2003 167 children under 7 in the UK have been injured by fireworks, many of which were caused by the seemingly innocuous sparkler. Sparklers are not harmless fun but can cause serious burns and should never be given to children under the age of 5.

To bring this message home the Office of Fair Trading is issuing all primary schools with leaflets specifically aimed at younger children and posters highlighting to parents the dangers of fireworks. There will be sufficient copies of the leaflet for each child to have one to take home and they include advice for adults on how to keep their children (and themselves) safe. Talks by the Fire Service to school assemblies are also available.

A radio campaign aimed at young people has also been developed to promote the message.

The Office is responsible for ensuring the safe storage of fireworks at retailers premises, the prevention of the sale of banned fireworks on the Island and the enforcement of age restrictions placed on the sale of fireworks.

A licensing and visiting programme by the Office ensures that necessary safe storage facilities are in place on retail premises, checks that no banned fireworks are on sale and that boxes are not being split.

The Office has not identified a problem with banned fireworks being supplied on the Island or brought in from the UK however the new Chairman of the Office Mr Quintin Gill, MHK said:

"I urge consumers to only buy from local retailers and they should also check that all fireworks they buy are marked with the British Standard (BS) 7114. It is an offence for retailers to split boxes of fireworks and consumers are asked to report to the Office if they are offered fireworks from split boxes.

"I would also ask that young people use fireworks responsibly. They are extremely dangerous when handled incorrectly and especially when thrown in the street. Not only are they dangerous but they cause great distress to older people and animals. The Police will be looking out for this foolish and reckless behaviour this year but it would be all too easy for a silly prank to turn into a serious injury."

The Office of Fair Trading reminds both retailers and consumers that fireworks cannot be supplied to anyone under the age of 18 and that the penalties for both supplier and purchaser are severe with the possibility of a fine of £5,000 and/or 6 months custody.

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