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Hallowe'en, Bonfire Night and Diwali fire safety message from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service

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In the run-up to the October and November holidays, the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has issued fire safety tips for residents.

Fireworks, bonfires and costumes and decorations are matters of particular concern, with people urged to follow official advice.

The RBFRS has put out a number of pointers, including what to do when confronted with burns and fire-related injuries.

Fire safety advice for Berkshire residents.
Fire safety advice for Berkshire residents.

For Hallowe'en costumes and decorations, the RBFRS warns residents:

  • Make sure that when purchasing or using costumes and masks that they are labelled as flame-resistant.
  • Don’t use flammable materials to make homemade costumes.
  • Keep children away from naked flames at all times.
  • If your clothing does catch fire, remember to stop, drop and roll to smother the flames.
  • Decorations can burn easily – do not attach them to lights or heaters.

For fireworks:

  • Always follow the Firework Code.
  • Make sure you only buy fireworks from licensed in-store and online retailers.
  • Adhere to the fireworks curfew – the firework curfew is midnight on Bonfire Night and 1am on Diwali.
  • Follow the instructions – before setting off fireworks, read all the safety instructions carefully. Once any debris has cooled down, tidy it up and soak it in water overnight before putting it in a rubbish bag and the bin.
  • Understand what fireworks you can use at home – Category F1, F2 and F3 fireworks are on sale to the public. A consumer firework will fall into either category F2 or F3 depending on how much of a safety distance it requires. Check you have enough space to safely use a firework before you buy it. Category information can be found on the label.
  • Be considerate to animals when letting off fireworks – if you plan to let off any fireworks, let your neighbours know in advance so they can care for pets.

For bonfires:

  • Build bonfires well away from buildings, fences, trees and garden structures.
  • Never burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint – many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode causing injury.
  • Don’t use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going as it could quickly get out of control.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.
  • Never leave a bonfire unattended.

For treating burns, the RBFRS has issued a three-point programme:

  • Cool – cool the burn with running cool tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and jewellery (unless it is melted or firmly stuck to the wound).
  • Call – call for help – 999, 111 or local GP for advice.
  • Cover – cover with cling film or a sterile, non-fluffy dressing or cloth and make sure the patient is kept warm.

Watch-based station manager David Grayson said: "Whilst we want our residents to enjoy their celebrations, we are asking that they take some additional precautions to ensure that their celebrations remain safe.

"If you are purchasing a costume for Hallowe'en, ensure that it is labelled as flame-resistant. If you are making one, do not use flammable materials.

"Whatever costume you do choose, keep it away from naked flames at all times.

"Fireworks in the wrong hands can cause real misery. Please only buy them from licensed manufacturers and remember, fireworks are explosives.

"Handle fireworks extremely carefully and only use them in accordance with the instructions and the Firework Code. Also, be respectful if you are using fireworks, they can be frightening for people and animals.

"Tell your neighbours if you are planning to let them off and ensure your display is over by the cut off time.”

The head of local policing for Berkshire, Superintendent Bhupinder Rai, said: "Everyone should remember that fireworks can be very dangerous when they are not used responsibly.

"Legal restrictions prevent anyone from under the age of 18 to purchase them or to possess them in a public place.

"The consequences of misusing fireworks, or of accidents occurring involving them, can be very serious and even tragic.

"If you choose to have fireworks at home, please make sure that children cannot access them. We would also encourage everyone to remind children of the danger these items can pose when not used appropriately."

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