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Staying safe at Halloween.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Hallowe'en is the celebration of the Christian festival of All Soul's Day, which falls on the same date as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. In times past, the festival was celebrated by feasting and bonfires, a tradition that has continued into the modern day.

Unfortunately one dangerous addition to the festivities these days is the increased use of illegal, unlicensed fireworks by children. These dangerous materials, marketed illegally as fun toys to kids, cause many children to lose fingers and seriously wound themselves each year.

Fireworks contain the same substance that goes into a bullet or that goes into a cartridge for a shotgun. Also illegal bonfires are popping up all across the country and more and more people are getting injured at the events.

Greg Burnell fire safety officer joins us to inform us of how to have a happy safe Halloween.

Halloween is this Saturday the 31st of October.

Greg Burnell - Fire Safety Officer

Every year alone Dublin fire brigade and Ambulance Services answer in excess of 1,100 calls over the Halloween period.

. Unless you are a license holder the possession of fireworks is an offence.
. That is not to say that there will not be people using fireworks around Halloween so be aware that every year many people are injured by the use of fireworks.
. Make sure that you protect your children and yourselves from this danger by avoiding areas where fireworks are being used.
. If you see a firework, do not approach it.
. Opt for an organized fireworks display.
. Sparklers and snappers are ok to use if supervised by an adult

The Law here concerning fireworks

. It is an offence for any person to possess a firework with intent to sell or supply, without a license.
. It is an offence to throw an ignited firework at any person or property.
. It is an offence to light unlicensed fireworks.
. The penalty for these offences is a fine of up to €10, 000 or 5 years imprisonment or both. Furthermore, the simple possession of fireworks without a license is also an offence for which a person may be liable to a fine of up to €10, 000

If a bonfire is reported the fire officers will go to the area and carry our a risk assessment, and if it is seen to be in a high risk location, i.e near houses/buildings, then measures will be taken to put it out. However the vast majority of bonfires will be assessed but not put out, mainly due to strain on resources and the safety of the fire fighters.

Bonfires are illegal. However there will be bonfires in most neighbourhoods, so we need to know the dangers.


. Burning tires and other toxic materials releases pollutants into the atmosphere, which is bad for our health, especially for asthma sufferers and those with respiratory diseases
. Illegal Bonfires are dangerous - children, adults and pets are at a high risk of injury and trauma from fireworks and bonfires
. It's bad for the environment - burnt earth on parklands, pitches and community green spaces will take approximately 18 months to recover before grass will grow back
. The clean up last Halloween cost Dublin City Council €1 million - think what that could do for YOUR community - such as new playground equipment or a new skate park
. The Emergency Fire and Ambulance Services have an important and very busy job to do fighting fires and saving lives, and Bonfires are an unnecessary and avoidable extra burden on these busy men and women
. Communities, especially older people, can become afraid when they see a bonfire and hear the associated noise.
. Bonfires are usually constructed by younger children who do not fully understand how the bonfire will behave as it burns. This has resulted in many people being injured when the lighted bonfires topple over.
. Bonfires can also attract groups or individuals who can "take-over" the bonfire and behave in an unruly manner, which can cause injury to innocent bystanders, so make sure you protect your family from such behaviour.

Greg will run through safety tips for a happy safe Halloween.

. If you see material being hoarded in advance of Halloween please contact your local Fire Brigade.
. Do not leave material lying around that may be taken for a bonfire
. Do not facilitate illegal bonfires or firework displays on or near your home or property
. Contact the Fire Brigade or Local Authority if you see a bonfire being built or lit close to buildings, trees, overhead cables, underground services or car parking areas
. Stay a safe distance from bonfires and fireworks - wind can carry sparks long distances which may cause permanent injuries and scars
. Keep dangerous substances such as oil, petrol, diesel and spray cans away from fires or fireworks
. Hazardous Materials like aerosols, foam filled furniture, batteries and tires will behave
. erratically and cause toxic fumes
. Parents, businesses and households - Do not provide any materials for bonfires
. Do not buy, use or supply fireworks.
. Respect the Emergency Services, Council Staff and the Gardaí in doing their jobs
. Keep pets indoors around Halloween night - they are sensitive to noise
. Above All - Be Safe and enjoy Halloween.

Check with you local county councils for any organized events in your area.

. Every year Dublin Fire Brigade and Ambulance Services answer in excess of 1,100 calls over the Halloween period
. Remember it can be a dangerous night; children should not be out unaccompanied. Stay with your children and escort them on "trick or treat" visits, to parties and events
. Explain the dangers of illegal fireworks and bonfires to children and teenagers
. Bring your children along to organized supervised events throughout the country.

. Remember to be particularly vigilant in the run up to Halloween
. Secure all material on your premises, which may be targeted for bonfires
. Giving Material to an unauthorized collector is an offence and subject to prosecution

NEVER handle fireworks
Stay away from Bonfires
Secure your letter box
Know where your children are
Keep pets indoor
Call on elderly neighbours

Additional / Misc' Info:

Stay Smart Play Safe
Dublin City Council and Dublin Fire Brigade Halloween Safety Campaign

On Tuesday 20th October 2009 at 11.30am the Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr. Emer Costello in the company of Bernard Dunne launched the Halloween Safety Campaign in the Ballyfermot Civic Centre, Ballyfermot Road, Dublin 10.

Dublin City Council and Dublin Fire Brigade are asking Dubliners, young and old a like, to do everything they can to "Stay Smart, Play Safe" this Halloween to ensure that everyone can enjoy the Halloween celebrations in a safe environment. A Halloween Safety Pack containing leaflets, posters and a safety DVD made by Dublin Fire Brigade, is being sent to primary schools in Dublin. The campaign information also includes a free-phone number (1800 251500) and an email address ( to enable concerned citizens to report stock piling of material for bonfires.

"Bonfires and fireworks at Halloween are extremely dangerous and cause a lot of injuries and damage. Every year Dublin Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service sees hundreds of lives put at risk. It is vital that everyone in the community plays their part in the Stay Safe Play Safe programme" said the Lord Mayor.

"Halloween is about dressing up, trick-or-treating and having fun with your family and friends and who wants to end their night with a trip to the hospital? Fireworks and bonfires are dangerous and should never be played with, so this October 31st Stay Safe Play Smart" said Bernard Dunne.