With Halloween celebrations centring around the home this year, Derry City and Strabane District Council is appealing to everyone to celebrate safely, particularly when it comes to purchasing fireworks and costumes.
The home of Halloween is encouraging everyone to scale down their festivities in light of the recent tightening of Covid-19 restrictions which prohibit social gatherings. And while this is the key safety message this year, Council today issued a warning about the other risks associated with Halloween which may be overlooked amidst the wider concerns about Coronavirus.
Council's Head of Health and Community Wellbeing, Seamus Donaghy, urged people to be aware of the dangers of garden fireworks, fancy dress costumes and excess alcohol, and to read up on all the guidance to ensure a safe and happy Halloween.
"Every year we encourage people to adhere to the advice as we prepare to welcome tens of thousands of people to the city for the Halloween celebrations," he said. "This year it will be a very different occasion, but the risks are still very real in terms of some of the carnival care elements.
"These risks centre mainly around the dangers presented by fireworks, candles and open flames, alcohol and drugs and unfortunately these things can be just as harmful at home, particularly around small children. We are appealing to parents to please heed the warnings and create a safe and protected environment for children.
"Young people, we are appealing to you not to gather in groups on the streets or at house parties, not to indulge in alcohol, avoid drugs and please be responsible," Mr Donaghy stressed.
"I understand these are difficult times, but we can enjoy ourselves if we follow the guidance. Share this time with close family and let's all do our bit to ensure a safe and happy Halloween for everyone."
The public are reminded that a valid fireworks licence is needed to buy, possess or use fireworks, with the exception of indoor fireworks or sparklers. People are urged to source any fireworks from licensed retailers and to only buy fireworks marked with a CE mark – this shows that the firework meets European safety standards which all fireworks must meet.
Likewise, Council has issued a warning about the purchase of Halloween costumes from reputable retailers, and to check labels and packaging to ensure they are fully safety compliant before purchasing.
Parents should be aware of the potential dangers of their children wearing fancy dress costumes - either shop bought or home-made - if they're around fireworks, sparklers, or open flames (such as pumpkins with candles).
Excess alcohol results in additional hospital admissions every year, and this Halloween people are being asked to be responsible when consuming alcohol and to avoid drugs to alleviate pressures on emergency services and A&E.
For more information and advice on the firework safety code and applying for a licence for garden fireworks go to https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/fireworks
For more general safety advice go to https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/news/put-safety-first-halloween
For further information on all these issues and some useful numbers in case of an emergency go to https://derryhalloween.com/carnival-care