This Diwali (Sat 14-Sun 15 Nov), West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) is urging families to celebrate with extra care.
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is one of the biggest celebrations in the Sikh, Hindu and Jain calendar. Fireworks, candles and oil lamps, as well as special meals with family and friends, usually add to the festive mood.
This year, however, restrictions on social gatherings because of the pandemic and the current lockdown, mean that many public events have been cancelled – meaning that more people might be tempted to use fireworks at home.
Between 2014 and 2019, WMFS firefighters responded to some 1,760 firework and bonfire-related incidents. During the same period, there were more than 1,000 severe burn injuries involving fireworks in England and Wales, with 38% of these involving under-15s and the majority being male.
Divas and candles also have the potential to cause serious burns and fires if not used and extinguished properly. Families are being encouraged to take care with hot oil and ensure that traditional clothing, such as saris, and long hair are kept away from naked flames.
Watch Commander Gurpreet Gill, of WMFS, said: “Diwali is a really special time for me and my family, as well as thousands of other households across the West Midlands. This year the celebrations will be much smaller and feel very different, but it’s important we all keep a focus on safety.
“Please be sure to follow the current rules on social gatherings, and take extra care with candles and divas – LEDs can be a safe, colourful alternative. If you’re cooking up a feast, never leave your cooking unattended, be careful with hot oil and keep an eye on the kids in the kitchen.
“Our biggest concern this year is the use of fireworks in back gardens. If you feel you must go ahead with your own Diwali firework celebration, plan ahead and remember that fireworks are explosives. Buy suitable, legal fireworks from a licensed supplier and ensure you have enough outdoor space to use them safely – usually between five and 25 metres – in accordance with the instructions.”
For more fire safety advice and guidance to keep you and your family safe during Diwali, please visit https://www.wmfs.net/safety/at-home/
Recently-introduced Government legislation gives police the powers to fine people who break lockdown measures. Restrictions on social gatherings – both nationally and locally – are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ease pressures on the NHS.