Fireworks safety tips | Western Cape Government

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Fireworks safety tips

Even though fireworks are beautiful and exciting to watch, they can also be potentially dangerous. Fireworks can cause damage to your property, harm your family or pets.

Fireworks safety tips infographicWhen you buy fireworks to use this festive season make sure that: 

  • you only buy fireworks from authorised dealers and shops displaying the relevant permits from the South African Police Service (SAPS),
  • you always accompany your children if they want to buy fireworks if they’re younger than 16, and
  • the fireworks are sold in sealed packages, as received from the suppliers.

Animals are easily frightened by fireworks and can become distressed or try to escape and run away. So, we encourage you to keep an eye on your pets and to keep them safely indoors where possible.

Firework safety tips:

  1. Make sure that your children and their friends are supervised at all times when around fireworks.
  2. Keep pets at home, in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to loud sounds. Make sure they have an ID in case they run off. 
  3. Don’t discharge fireworks indoors.
  4. Never keep lit fireworks in your hand, as this could lead to severe injuries.
  5. Fireworks are not allowed in residential areas. Only discharge fireworks at designated sites away from people, animals, homes and cars. Check with your local municipality before igniting fireworks.
  6. If a firework doesn’t ignite, don’t attempt to re-light it. Wait at least 15 minutes before you try again.
  7. Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby in case of a malfunctioning firework.
  8. Sparklers can be just as dangerous. Always light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves. Never hold a baby or child if you have a sparkler in your hand. Put finished sparklers with the hot end down in a bucket of water as soon as they have burnt out.
  9. Only light 1 firework at a time.
  10. Don’t make your own fireworks.
  11. Only use fireworks as directed by the instructions printed on the package.
  12. Make sure that your clothes are not close or hanging over the fireworks when you ignite them.
  13. Don’t light fireworks inside any type of container.
  14. The Community Fire Safety By-law prohibits the use of Chinese lanterns.
  15. Never discharge fireworks whilst under the influence of alcohol. 
     

Fines

In terms of Section 30 of the Explosives Act of 1956, the use or detonation of any fireworks in any building and public thoroughfare is liable to a R200 fine; selling fireworks to a child or anyone under the age of 16 is liable to a R300 fine; and allowing a child or person under the age of 16 to handle fireworks without adult supervision is liable to a R300 fine.

Additional information:

  • Burn injuries happen in seconds, but can change a person’s life forever. It is one of the most common and devastating forms of trauma and have the potential to cause death, lifelong scarring, disfigurement and dysfunction.
  • The Burns Unit at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is the only specialised paediatric Burns Unit within a dedicated children’s hospital in Africa. 
  • Most firework injuries seen at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Trauma Unit, occur during the first week of November with injuries to the hands/fingers, face and eyes.
  • Every year the hospital treats approximately 3 500 children for burns (which includes children who are treated in the Burns Outpatient Clinic); approximately 1 300 of these cases are severe burns. 
  • Children’s skin is thinner than adults' and their skin burns at lower temperatures more deeply, making them susceptible to harsher burns with long-term effects.
  • In South Africa, burns is the third most common cause of accidental deaths amongst children under 14 years, exceeded only by motor vehicle accidents and drowning.
     

In the event of an emergency:

  • Cool the burn or scald with cold water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cut around material sticking to the skin - don't pull it off.
  • Don't touch the burn or burst any blisters.
  • Cover the burn with clean, non-fluffy material to prevent infection - cling film is ideal.
  • If clothing catches fire, get the person to stop, drop to the floor and roll them in heavy material such as a woollen blanket.

To report a fire you can call 107 from a landline and 021 480 7700 from a cell phone (Tip: Keep this number on your cell phone as a speed dial.)

If you have information relating to the illegal sale or use of fireworks, you can report it to the Metro Police Call Centre on 0860 POLICE (765423) or to SAPS on 10111.

For more information about the location of the designated sites, please contact your local municipality or the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Operations Centre on 080 911 HELP (4357).

The content on this page was last updated on 21 December 2018