Twice as many fireworks injuries as last year, despite fireworks ban
The number of victims in New Year’s fireworks incidents was twice as high as last week compared to the 2020-2021 period. Despite the fireworks ban, a total of 773 people required treated in the emergency room or at a general practitioner, reports injury prevention center VeiligheidNL.
The figure includes the 12-year-old boy who died in Haaksbergen when a type of sledgehammer was used by an adult to strike a mound of magnesium powder, causing an explosion that also injured another boy.
The number of fireworks victims this New Year's period was still 40 percent lower than 2019-2020, when there was no fireworks ban. The fact that more fireworks were set off this year than last year, the first to take place during the coronavirus pandemic, is partly due to the fact that fireworks could be bought in Belgium this year. "We also suspect that the decline in support for the lockdown measures also played a role," the organization says.
During the New Year’s period a week ago, 190 children under the age of 12 were victims of an accident involving fireworks, compared to 120 the previous year. They mainly suffered burn wounds and eye injuries, especially from category F1 fireworks, also known as children's fireworks. The catalogue of F1 fireworks was not included in the ban implemented last month, or the ban a year ago. Nearly half of children injured were either holding the fireworks or had ignited them. In other cases, fireworks were set off near them by another person.
More than half of the total number of fireworks victims who required medical treatment were younger than 20 years of age. VeiligheidNL also points out that a viral TikTok challenge led to irresponsible behavior with fireworks among a number of children. The challenge called on people to shoot video of themselves kicking at smoldering fireworks, then sharing videos of the aftermath on the social network.
The use of powerful illegal fireworks not only caused burns, eye injuries, and head wounds, but also led to several cases where amputation of one or more fingers was needed, VeiligheidNL states. Plastic surgeons also reported an increase in the number of hand injuries compared to the previous year.
About 80 percent of fireworks victims in the last few weeks were boys or men, VeiligheidNL says.
Reporting by ANP