How to handle firecrackers safely this new year's eve
MANILA, Philippines – As an experienced emergency management consultant for large corporations, safety is always on my mind. The coming new year’s eve will surely see a lot of people lighting up firecrackers to celebrate the arrival of 2016. To be really safe, we should avoid using firecrackers entirely and stick to something less risky like trumpets and other noisemakers.
For those of you who cannot avoid the fun and thrill of using firecrackers, here are some safety tips that will help you and your family or friends have a safe and fun new year’s eve celebrations.
Firstly, assign someone who will be responsible for the over-all safety of those who will be engage in revelry. Designate him or her the "Fire Watcher".
Your Fire Watcher can be an adult member of the family/barkada who will not be in any way involved in igniting firecrackers or lighting up sparklers.
The designated Fire Watcher will act as the official "safety officer" for the New Year's eve celebration and should perform the following tasks:
- Watch out for any unsafe actions. These can be deviations from recommended firecracker ignition procedures; holding firecrackers; pointing or throwing firecrackers at another person, experimenting, altering the fuse, mixing black powder and other chemicals, and use of cigarettes while using firecrackers.
- Needless to say, children should never be allowed to play with firecrackers, even with adult supervision.
- Inspect and ensure safety in the following areas: firing area (or an area where firecrackers are used) and fall-out area (area where debris from pyrotechnics are expected to fall). Do not use firecrackers near rocks, bottles and debris that may cause dangerous projectiles and flying debris; Launch pads for rockets (kwitis) should be properly secured; Storage of firecrackers should be away from any open flames;
- The Fire Watcher should monitor closely where the firecrackers may land or rockets (”Kwitis”) landing to light materials or highly combustible materials.
- Immediately extinguish small fires or embers. Prepare incipient firefighting equipment (several water buckets with dipper, bucket with sand, portable fire extinguisher). These should be pre-positioned in the area where firecrackers are used.
- Render safe all unexploded firecrackers by pouring water immediately so that it cannot be used by children who might pick them up in the morning.
- Assist others who might need first aid (if you are trained). Prepare a first kit (for minor wounds and burns). Identify the nearest hospital as well as a mode of emergency transport (on-standby vehicle)
- Call the nearest Fire Station in case the fire is uncontrollable. Make sure to have the number of nearest Fire Station in your area.
Here's a Rappler infographic you can share with others:
Be a Fire Safety Hero
Everyone can be a fire safety hero this new year’s eve by volunteering to be the responsible Fire Watcher. Stay safe everyone! – Rappler.com
Martin Aguda Jr. is an emergency management consultant and a safety and preparedness advocate. He is also the founder of Orange Helmets, a humanitarian emergency response group.