Guy Fawkes Night can be an exceptionally sensory experience for young children. The lights, sights, colours, sounds and excitement make it an event worth celebrating. However, it is important to be extra careful about safety. Here are a few tips on how to make it a fun, safe occasion for the whole family.
Safety is paramount, so think about attending an organized display. Find a safe place and don’t get too close to the fireworks. Loud noises above 80 dB can affect the development of hearing in young children. Fireworks register at 140 dB, which is loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.
Earmuffs can effectively reduce dangerous levels of noise and can be used by toddlers. However, it is never a good idea to use earplugs since these could damage the soft ear canal of a young child. They could also become a potential choking hazard if they find their way to your toddler’s mouth.
Wrap your child up in several layers of clothing, making sure that his hands, feet and head are well covered. A back pack will keep a young toddler close to your body and provide warmth, safety and security. It also enables you to hold on to a mobile child, who may be inclined to walk off if unsupervised.
Watching the bonfire can also be great fun, but it can pose a serious safety risk. Children are far more likely to get injured than adults, so safety and supervision are paramount. Sparks can fly out of the fire so fast that your child’s eyelids may not have time to react. Even if emergency aid is immediate, damage to the eye could be permanent. Wood smoke contains over 200 chemicals, many of which are detrimental to health. Treated or painted wood smoke contains an even greater range of toxic compounds. The only way to prevent injury and to protect your child is to keep a safe distance from the source of danger.
Most children are mesmerised by fireworks, but if your child becomes overwhelmed or frightened, offer plenty of reassurance. If this doesn’t work, make a quick getaway. An alternative is to watch the display from the car.
If you are thinking of celebrating Guy Fawkes Night at home, set the theme with Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ or Tchaikovsky’s 1812 cannon overture.
Use LED battery operated fairy lights to create a magical effect (the bulbs do not get hot, so there is no risk of injury). Serve hot soup or drinks to adults in glass-free flasks to reduce the risk of accidents and keep alcohol out of reach of little hands. Even a small amount left in a glass can be poisonous to a small child.
Never give a sparkler to a child under five years-old. A sparkler reaches a temperature of about 2000oC, which is five times hotter than cooking oil. Children should wear protective gloves, hold a sparkler at arms length and be fully supervised at all times. Sparklers can stay hot after they have gone out, so plunge them into a bucket of water to keep children safe. If fireworks are to be used, avoid firecrackers, jumping jacks and spinners that can cause damage and injury. The best option is to look at the display from an upstairs window.
If your child is warm, wears earmuffs and keeps a safe distance from the bonfire and fireworks, then the celebrations will be stimulating, safe, fun and memorable for everyone.