Young people are being targeted in a hard hitting award-winning campaign to reduce the number of bonfire and firework related injuries across Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.
Every year almost 1,000 children in the North of England are injured by fireworks, often resulting in permanent scarring or disfiguration. Now 28,000 pupils in secondary schools across Tyne and Wear are being warned about the dangers of bonfires and fireworks in a programme of educational visits by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service. Whilst 9,000 pupils in first and middle schools in Northumberland are being targeted.
The school tours are part of the 'Bonfires and Fireworks Ruin Lives in a Flash' campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal bonfires and fireworks misuse and to reduce anti-social behaviour linked to bonfires and fireworks.
As part of the campaign to encourage young people to be more bonfire and firework safety conscious two competitions are being held. Split into two age groups, 10-12 years and 13-15 years, entrants are asked a series of firework and bonfire safety-related questions with correct entries going into a draw to win a notebook laptop computer.
There's also the opportunity to win an Apple iPod Nano for suggesting ideas about how they would tell their friends and family about the dangers of bonfire night. To be in with a chance of winning, the judges are looking for creativity, reasons why the idea would work, originality and whether the cost of the idea would be worthwhile.
Details of both competitions and entry forms are at www.ruinlivesinaflash.com.
Alongside talks and presentations, new tactics are being used to help spread safety messages to the young audiences. These include employing bluetooth technology to communicate information via mobile phone and using the world of social networking, with groups on websites Facebook and Bebo. People can use the sites to share messages and view campaign videos and images, and the Bebo group also has members with stories to tell of how they received some nasty injuries and scars that will last them a lifetime from bonfire and firework–related accidents.
127 young people outside of mainstream education have also been involved in learning about bonfire safety through a programme of sessions held at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service's interactive safety centre SafetyWorks.
The 'Bonfires and Fireworks Ruin Lives in a Flash' campaign, now its in second year, is focusing heavily on promoting its lifesaving messages to young people as Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Simpson explains: "Evidence shows that young people are the most likely to be injured in incidents involving fireworks and bonfires. We want to get the message across to this vulnerable group that fireworks and bonfires are very dangerous and can have devastating consequences. One way we're aiming to do this is by using the same social networking media and technology that young people are using with their friends everyday."
He continues: "We hope pupils will take this valuable firework safety advice to heart. We want youngsters to enjoy fireworks without harm to themselves or annoyance to others. Our best advice to them is to encourage your families to attend a professional organised display so everyone can have a trouble free Bonfire Night."