Be Safe on Bonfire Night – Avoid Serious Injury

Be Safe on Bonfire Night

 

Bonfire Night is a special holiday in the UK celebrating the commemoration of the failed attempt on King James’ life by, infamous plotter, Guy Fawkes. The tradition, steeped in history, is celebrated by thousands of firework displays up and down the country, in both small-scale back garden affairs and elaborate displays in front of packed crowds.

Whether you are participating at a high or low key event, it is paramount that all those involved are both aware of the risks that fireworks and bonfires pose, as well as taking the necessary steps to avoid accidents and potential serious injuries. In the last few years nearly 1,000 injuries have been attributed to fireworks, with almost half of them being children.

Sincere Law - Fireworks & Serious Injury

Beware the Risks

Bonfire night poses a selection of potential injury threats when fireworks and bonfires are treated irresponsibly. They can also cause further problems if the same risks are presented to children, who may be unaware of the full potential for danger.

Our safety tips are designed to keep you aware but also able to ensure that you can enjoy what can be one of the most mesmerising nights of the year. With a little care and attention, Bonfire Night can go off with a bang and without a hitch.

 

Sparkler Safety

To begin we touch on possibly the most common injury to children on Bonfire Night, using sparklers. These dazzling tools can provide a few moments of joy for many children by making patterns, writing their name or just waving them in the air. With a burning temperature of 2,000 degrees Celsius however, which is over 15 times the boiling point of water, third degree burns are not uncommon for those exposed to them.

The third degree is one of the most severe burns as it singes not only the epidermis but goes as deep as the dermis and the nerve endings in skin, often causing discolouration, scarring, blistering and disfigurement depending on where it takes place.

Sparklers should always be stored in a cool, dry box, only to be taken out one at a time for lighting. Always use gloves to avoid burning; this counts for both the lighter and the user. With that said, any children under the age of five are best left watching, rather than holding them themselves. Have a cold water bucket on hand for when the sparkler is spent (a used sparkler can still run hot for a long time following burnout). Cold water is the best way to ensure it cools, keeping it away from any young children who otherwise may be tempted to pick up a hot spent sparkler left on the floor.

Sparklers possibly pose the biggest threat on Bonfire Night, given the widespread use and proximity to them. It doesn’t get any closer than holding the mini firework in your hand, so the awareness of the threat they pose needs to be at the front of the mind.

Sparkler Safety with Fireman Sam

 

Firework Safety

Displays vary from a humble value pack bought at the local supermarket for the back garden, to the expansive public displays like the Lord Mayor’s show in London or the most popular in the UK, Lewes Firework Display, which is attended by over 30 Bonfire groups.

Fireworks offer the best visuals, lighting up the sky in a multitude of colours and patterns. While they provide the biggest spectacle of the evening, they must be managed with care as a mishandled firework can easily become a painful and dangerous mistake.

Our advice on firework safety would be to take the safest option and take the family to a public display. Displays are a managed event and will have all the relevant health & safety safeguards required to ensure all have a safe but mesmerising time.

An organised event near you is likely to have the most expansive display around and likely to beat out anything that can be bought from a local supermarket.

If you do decide you’d like to put on a small display at home, you may find that taking time to properly set up during the day can assist the smooth running of your display and maximise safety. Read the instructions on the fireworks during the day when it’s light and lay them out ready for you to set off later that evening. If you want a seamless display, you can purchase single fuse displays that only require lighting once, removing the need to walk over and light individually (reducing risk).

Sincere Law - Serious Injury & Sparklers

If you are setting up at home, ensure your display area is clear of trees, hedges, bushes, sheds and other structures blocking the firework’s path. If you have a lot of grass near the display area we would recommend placing each firework in a bucket of soft earth, lighting them with a taper to keep any early sparks away from flammable surfaces.

When the display starts in full, keep everyone watching away from the firework area and have a first aid kit on hand as a safeguard. If you have friends or family over, who are drinking alcohol, ensure they do not try and get involved in the display. Alcohol and fireworks do not mix!

 

Bonfire Safety

The main attraction and the annual events namesake, bonfires, are seen the length and breadth of the country. Bonfires can be made from the old shed in a back garden, good burning wood brought in for the community firework display and all manner of weird and wonderful materials. Each bonfire has its own story.

If you have made a bonfire at home and have invited visitors around for the evening, you’ll need to be aware of the threat of an open fire and manage it accordingly. You may have an effigy of Guy Fawkes sat atop your bonfire, whether you do or don’t, you’ll need to be aware of everything thrown on your bonfire to control the blaze, including what Guy is wearing.

For the base of a bonfire, it’s wise to use simple, good burning materials like cuttings of wood to build up the structure. The best materials for kindling (used to light the fire) include:

  • Dead plants and grasses
  • Wax
  • Lint
  • Birch bark
  • Wood shavings
  • Paper
  • Dry leaves

For the actual structure itself, it is best to use sturdy objects such as dry wood blocks, twigs and cardboard. Build up from a large base into a peak. To stop the fire spreading if it is on grass, place stones and rocks around the outer edge to contain the fire.

Sincere Law & Bonfire Safety

There should never be any highly flammable materials or liquids on the fire, as even the smallest amount can cause the fire to unexpectedly erupt, causing flames to shoot out from the main fire. Aerosols, alcohol, petrol and paints are all dangerous when thrown onto a fire given their highly reactive nature.

As with firework displays, all attendees should be placed well back in case the fire spits and should definitely be kept further away if consuming alcohol. Fireworks and alcohol are a bad mix, so is fire and alcohol.

 

Be Safe & Enjoy!

It can be easy to get sucked into the dangers of bonfire night, with the possibility of being burned by bonfires, fireworks and sparklers. It’s even easier if you are a parent to worry about your child, given the extensive campaigns promoting fire safety to children. The reality, however, is that if you are conscientious about the dangers and act in a level headed manner throughout the evening, you are more likely to have a fantastic time watching the flames spur up into the night, as the sky is blanketed by flashes and explosions.

Sincere Law do have the ability to help if you suffer as a result of somebody else’s negligent actions with fire or fireworks. We are open from 8am – 9pm daily and have a team of dedicated specialists to help you through a serious injury claim. To get in touch should you suffer the worst you can call on 0800 092 2896 or you can fill in our contact form here to get in touch. We do hope however that you, your family and friends have a safe, enjoyable bonfire night filled with cheer and spectacle.

Sincere Law & Bonfire Night Safety Tips

 

“No win no fee” – What this means to you?

It’s a phrase thrown around with tremendous aplomb inside the Law industry. Something you would probably notice more if it wasn’t featured on a law firm’s website front page and seemingly par for the course for every personal injury Solicitors in the modern age. What does it mean though? Do Solicitors work for free? Surely there’s a catch? Continue reading

Safety on the school run – Part 1

After an exciting summer break with plenty of adventure, fun and a few (well, a lot) of rainy days; it’s finally ‘back to School’ time! September has worked its way towards us all summer until we are finally here, the beginning of the new academic year and the next set of School runs. With that in mind, now is the perfect time to remind yourself to be extra vigilant and take all necessary precautions to stay safe when walking your child into School. Part 1 of this 2 part article aims to help remind all parents walking with children of the dangers of not staying vigilant on roads around schools.

Casualties around schools

Managing road traffic accidents involving children aged 16 and under is a large task in the UK. With statistics showing 2,412 children killed or seriously injured in 2011 and 800 of the same incidents in 2012, it’s imperative to ensure the decline continues and incidents involving school children are prevented. Post 2000 there has been a positive and steady decrease in the amount of children seriously injured by road users (see below); hopefully this can continue with both drivers and pedestrians around schools more mindful of their surroundings, exercising correct caution.

 

school road traffic accidents

Source – http://makingthelink.net/child-deaths-road-traffic-accidents

Keeping the graph in mind, Sincere Law has looked into the most common reasons for accidents involving children around schools and has come up with our best practices to remember when walking your child to the school gates each morning. Some of them may already be very obvious, but it never hurts to revise; the cost of your child’s health and life is far too important!

Staying safe for pedestrians

1. Hand in hand is the way to go

Younger children feel safer when an adult is there to hold their hand through many situations. From a young age it is a good idea to get them into the habit of holding hands while crossing the road for safety. Of course from a parent’s perspective, having your child in hand will ensure no running out in front will occur, lowering the risk of falling from the pavement or straying into the road towards danger.

2. Beware when between cars

There isn’t always a zebra crossing, pelican crossing or crossing guard available outside every school. If there is outside of your child’s school, make the most of it/them and encourage your child to always use the safest spots to cross. If the school however is on a road that has cars parked along the perimeter, it is vital to impress upon your child the dangers of crossing between cars on a busy street. If avoidable, always cross where there is clear daylight to see oncoming cars and bikes so they can see you. If though you have no other options, do not walk out between them, but take extra time and care to let yourself and your child have a clear crossing.

The Beatles - Abbey Road                                                               The Beatles setting a good example of a safe crossing

3. Take the outside lane

An unwritten parental rule is to have your child walk to your left and away from any road. Younger children in particular will sometimes veer off course, maybe stumble or try and walk off ahead by themselves. The closer to the road they walk the higher risk of danger from passing vehicles. Of course around a school environment we all would hope drivers obey the 20mph speed limits and drive safely, but to not take that risk and enforce “adults on the road side” can avoid any falling/venturing into the road and into the path of imminent dangers.

4. Copy David Prowse’s fine example

Back in the 1970’s, 1980’s and as late as 1990, Britain’s premier bodybuilder of the era, known best on the big screen as Darth Vader; David Prowse; portrayed to children across the nation the knowledagble ‘Green Cross Code Man’. The faux superhero protected youngsters who strayed near the road and didn’t pay attention, warning them of the dangers of doing so. While he may not be around to guard our school runs in 2015, his message lives on. Impart on your children the green cross code, the tried and tested stop, look, listen and cross. You don’t need to wear a white and green costume to bring enlightenment to your children on road safety.

5. Encourage constant concentration

While knowledge of the green cross code can help instil the routine needed to stay safe on the roads (not just on the way to school), it also needs to be accompanied by an alert pedestrian. Reminding your child to keep looking when crossing, even when holding your hand, will help keep their mind vigilant; doing so regularly will also help develop the understanding of always looking and always watching for hazards. For best practice it is worth teaching them to keep looking each way even when crossing to make sure no imminent danger is approaching like an unseen bike or a car that has sped up and approaching faster than anticipated. Only when on the opposite side is everything safe again.

6. Timing is key

We understand the hectic nature of a family home in the morning, parents trying to drink down their hot tea or coffee in one go as they grab their coat to leave for work, the children are never seemingly ready for school and in a constant state of “just have to put my shoes on” and the dog is still hungry from not being fed yet. A household is incredibly hard to manage in a morning and it is tempting once you leave with child in hand to let autopilot take over as you rush to get them to school on time. Being late and rushing can compromise safety if attention drops. It may be a difficult suggestion to make, but making sure everybody leaves 5 minutes earlier than usual could very well ensure a race against the clock is not on the cards and awareness is increased. An alert and attentive mind not preoccupied with trying to beat the clock could save lives!

Road accidents by schools – the impact

The result of a car, motorcycle or even a bicycle striking a child under 16 can have devastating consequences. Cars driving above 30mph can kill children due to the body not being fully developed and able to cope with the impact. Even bicycles can cause severe internal bruising, bleeding, bone breaks and head injuries as a result of the initial strike.

Not all accidents with children by schools are fatal, but a non fatal crash can change lives just as much. The likelihood of sustaining harsher impact injuries such as spinal damage, brain damage, bone breaks and hyperextensions in the body are higher than that of an adult. The results can require lengthy rehabilitation from the resetting of bones, repair and physiotherapy needed to help muscle tears, and potentially psychological assistance as suffering from an incident at a young age can affect a child for the remainder of their life.

Alterations to lifestyles could be required from help moving around the house if the accident results in limited or loss of mobility and care may need to be provided if there are effects on the ability to perform regular tasks. Having dealt with very sensitive cases such as these for over 20 years we know what is required to help a family and child recover as best they can from an accident on the road, around school or otherwise. If you or somebody you know has suffered from an incident involving a child on the road, feel free to call us for expert, impartial advice on 0800 092 2896 or contact us here for all the information you need to start a claim and get some measure of justice for your family’s misfortune.

 

What is a “Duty of Care”?

The Dalai Lama was once quoted saying:

“If you shift your focus from yourself to others, extend your concern to others, and cultivate the thought of caring for the well being of others, then this will have the immediate effect of opening up your life and helping you to reach out”.

When we speak of what a duty of care is, it is surprisingly similar to what the revered Dalai Lama was trying to put across here that we should make sure to show care and attention for everyone around us. It may not be the dictionary definition for duty of care, but it definitely puts us on the right track.

duty of care - serious injury claims

Your duty defined

A duty of care is what we owe to anyone we interact with, in any guise of life. We owe a duty of care to our fellow drivers, our fellow employees, our fellow human beings. Before we go into any detail, let’s take a look at some definitions on a duty of care:

A “duty of care” is:

“a legal obligation which is imposed on an individual requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could cause foreseeable harm to others” – Wikipedia

“the legal obligation to safeguard others from harm while they are in your care, using your services, or exposed to your activities” – Collins dictionary

“a requirement that a person act towards others and the public with watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would” – Legal dictionary

From the above we can see that a duty of care is owed by any and all people who have some relationship to another person in any form. This includes professional working relationships and special relationships, like using roads, being in the same room or walking on the same pavement.

Relationships in a duty of care do not just extend to a traditional relationship, as soon as you come into contact with somebody else, you will owe them a duty of care. In the simplest sense, for example, we would owe everybody we walk past a duty of care not to flail our arms while walking, as it could cause injury. The same applies while driving to not break the law and drive dangerously, as that could also cause serious injury.

Breaching your duty

How do you breach your duty and what happens following one? Simple, you are in breach if you do not uphold the behaviour, care and attention that would be expected in any given situation; situations such as:

• Being hit by somebody driving erratically, causing a collision
• Your employer having you perform a task, risking injury due to improper PPE, prior training or an unsafe working environment
• Being injured and trusting your health to a medical practitioner, your condition then worsens due to their misjudgement


Doctors owe a professional duty of care to take care of their patients

You are owed a duty to be treated in a safe manner in all aspects of life. Failing to do so could allow you to claim on a serious injury if the actions caused by another are seen to be negligent. You can see many examples of this by viewing our case studies to see the result of a duty breached.

Aftermath of a breach

An incident caused by negligence can result in severe injuries. Back in 2013, 69% of fatal road traffic accidents were the result of negligent driver errors; alongside that 66% of serious incidents also involved that same contributory factor. Our duties are not restricted to the road however; they also count at work and during our everyday lives.

Having dealt with serious injury cases for over 20 years we understand the devastating effect that negligent behaviour can have on a person and their family. Rehabilitation, physiotherapy and psychotherapy from the most serious incidents can take many months or years to recover from.

Sincere Law will always strive to help you or your loved one not only recover, but to get back to as normal a life as possible, following serious injury.

If you or a family member have been affected by someone else’s negligent actions, please get in touch on 0800 092 2896 to speak to one of our friendly advisers or contact us at www.sincerelaw.co.uk. All of our solicitors work on a no win, no fee basis, meaning you get free impartial advice with no commitment and no payments to make if we aren’t successful.

 

Serious injuries at work – Not just in the office

It was reported recently on Wales Online that a doctor had suffered a “Serious spinal injury” while on a team bonding trip out in the Bristol channel and was claiming damages from her employer, the NHS. The trip, which was in 2008, was to be an hour long journey involving the party boarding a 9 meter long inflatable boat labelled “The Pioneer”.

 

When Injuries Occur

When it comes to serious injuries at work, we often find ourselves pulled into thinking about very common situations such as falling from a ladder while working outside, or suffering injury from not wearing correct personal protective equipment. We sometimes think about what could happen in an office such as lifting heavy objects, unlabeled wet floors or objects falling from shelves. What many of us don’t consider, however, is the chances of being injured during the more social and fun aspects of our jobs, team building days.

Days away from the office can take many forms including:

  • Seminars
  • Assault Courses
  • Outdoor Activates
  • New Skill Courses
  • And Many Others

Team building days are when we are able to relax and get to know others in the workplace, bonding with close team members and even some you may not have regular contact with. These days are meant to be in good spirit and boost morale. However, decisions on safety during these events need just as much care and attention for the prevention of accidents as the workplace itself. Real care must be taken when completing risk assessments and carrying them out.

 

Risk analysis outside the office

Chris Walker, Sincere Law’s partner for catastrophic and serious injuries stressed the added importance of creating an enjoyable but safe environment for team days out of office. He told us:

Boating accidents in particular are unfortunately commonplace; they carry higher risks given location and access to immediate help compared to seminars or physical activities such as assault courses. With any event like this it is vital to look after everyone taking part and that proper precautions are in place”.

4600521273_6309852489_o

The case involving Dr Feest is not uncommon. We regularly receive calls from individuals who fall victim to poor planning and precaution taking while outside of the workplace. If you feel you or a family member has had a similar experience of suffering a serious injury and would like to know more, or enquire about making a serious injury claim; please call us on 0800 092 2896 or contact us here.