Many parents see stars, spinning tops or flowers as relatively harmless fireworks for children. Is it true? What fireworks are children allowed, how do we deal with this as parents?
From what age are fireworks allowed?
“The law is clear: don’t set off fireworks under the age of 12,” says Jeffrey Peters of the Fireworks Lovers Association Foundation (HVLV). “Only from the age of 12 are children allowed to buy and use F1 fireworks. F1 fireworks include stars, popsicles, fountains and ground charges. Star throwers look harmless but are red hot. I would like to encourage parents to observe this age limit, because you really run a risk.”
In the past few weeks, the number of children being taken to a burn center due to injuries from F1 fireworks has been increasing, says the Burns Foundation. “At the moment, a TikTok challenge where children are challenged to step on fireworks for a louder bang is a big risk. If you step at just the wrong time, a ground flower can burn right through your shoe. This results in a severe burn and a scar which can affect you for the rest of your life,” said Kees Hoogewerf from the Burn Foundation.
Many young people in particular are injured by fireworks
Research from SafetyNL, the knowledge center for injury prevention, shows that at the turn of the year from 2021 to 2022, it was primarily young people who were injured by fireworks. 54 percent were under the age of 20 and 17 percent under the age of 12. They often got burns.
Almost half of the victims had not fired the fireworks themselves, but were spectators. The study also shows that firing behaviors, including passes, inhibition and carelessness, are the leading cause of firework injuries.
What do you do if your child is afraid of fireworks? Parents of Nu have a number of tips.
What about the fireworks ban?
For the past two years, fireworks have been banned throughout the Netherlands due to corona and the impending overload of hospitals. In 2022, there will be no restrictions regarding fireworks, apart from the ban on high-risk fireworks. These are fireworks from category F3, including fireworks (fireworks and heavier ones), Roman candles, flares, Chinese mats and single shots.
“The ban on high-risk fireworks came into force in 2020. Subsequently, there was a total ban on fireworks for two years, so we will first see the effects of banning high-risk types of fireworks this year,” says Peters from the HVLV Foundation.
Most victims suffered burns from fireworks in the so-called F1 category. Fireworks are divided into four categories by the European pyrotechnics directive:
Category F1also called ‘joke and joke fireworks’: fireworks with very little danger;
Category F2also known as ‘consumer fireworks’: low hazard fireworks;
Category F3: medium-hazard fireworks (usually for professional use only);
Category F4: fireworks that pose a major hazard and are intended for professional use only.
There are different minimum ages to purchase and set off these fireworks for the different categories. F1 is from 12 years, F2 is from 16 years and from F3 it is exclusively intended for fireworks professionals from 18 years and older. This requires, among other things, completed training as a fireworks expert.
What kind of fireworks are children allowed to set off?
“I would prefer to say: Don’t let children set off fireworks at all. As parents, you can light the fireworks yourself and let the children watch from behind the window,” says Hoogewerf. “Regardless of the age categories – which are actually not always observed – you always run a risk.
When children set off fireworks by themselves or with their parents, it is especially important to take the right precautions and make sure you are well prepared.”
What does the right preparation look like? This is what the HVLV Foundation wants to tell young firecrackers and their parents about. With their Safe Celebrations campaign, the foundation hopes to reduce the number of incidents involving and caused by fireworks this year. With the help of a free course that can be followed via an app, you can learn how to set off decorative fireworks safely. Upon completion, participants receive a certificate of completion.
Here’s how to set off fireworks safely, according to the Burns Foundation and the HVLV Foundation:
– Pay attention to safety equipment: wear fireworks goggles, use a fuse and take care of your clothing. Avoid wearing flammable fabrics (nylon) or jackets with wide pockets, large collars or hoods. Have children wear hearing protection if necessary;
– Observe the rules for lighting fireworks: keep a sufficient distance and refrain from lighting fireworks while intoxicated;
– Stick to the age categories: F1 fireworks from 12 years, F2 fireworks from 16 years;
– Limit the nuisance to other people: think about noise and cleaning up fireworks waste afterwards;
– Be sure to recognize illegal fireworks, because this type of fireworks causes the greatest dangers and the most inconvenience. If you stick to legal decorative fireworks, New Year’s Eve can be celebrated very safely.
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