Expect things to go off with a bang in Otago this
Fireworks go on sale today ahead of Guy Fawkes Night on
While retailers will be hoping sales to rocket, fireworks
have been a fading tradition in recent years.
''I think fireworks displays have become less popular. There
is less discretionary income about and more bureaucratic
hurdles now,'' Dunedin pyrotechnician David Howard said
''Over the last couple of decades, we have seen bureaucrats
trying to eliminate risk, which is impossible. You can
minimise risk, but you can't eliminate it.
''There are some simple ways to mitigate risk. Always set
fireworks off with your profile side-on to them. If you don't
front them, they can't blow your head off. Fireworks are an
inherently dangerous activity and that's part of the delight.
But human beings need to celebrate or we get depressed.''
The strict sale conditions meant the Otago Daily Times
was unable to obtain a photograph of fireworks yesterday, as
retailers were instructed to keep stocks quarantined until
this morning. Permits had been issued for 17 bonfires in
Dunedin on Guy Fawkes Night, compared with 22 last year,
principal rural fire officer Graeme Still said yesterday.
''We get a lot of hedge fires at this time of year and there
are some common-sense things people can do to avoid problems.
Don't use fireworks around dry vegetation, or fire them into
dry vegetation,'' Mr Still said.
''For people with bonfire permits, make sure you keep them
manageable. They don't need to be as big as a house. People
should also make sure they are fully extinguished before
going to bed.''
Fireworks-related injury claims cost more than $191,000 in
New Zealand last year, ACC insurance and prevention services
manager John Beaglehole said yesterday.
''Always follow the manufacturer's instructions. Make sure
fireworks are stable and light them well away from people and
buildings,'' Mr Beaglehole said.
''If you're enjoying a beer or wine on Guy Fawkes night, it's
probably best to have a designated non-drinking person in
charge of letting off the fireworks. And keep an eye on your
It was also important to prepare pets for Guy Fawkes
celebrations, the New Zealand Veterinary Association advised
''The fifth of November every year sees veterinary clinics
treating injured and traumatised pets, particularly dogs,
because of fireworks displays,'' NZVA Companion Animal
Society president Cath Watson said.
''Even well-managed fireworks displays at home or nearby can
result in anxiety and distress for pets. The terror they
cause animals might be indirect, but it can be very
distressing and lead to pets attempting to escape and
potentially putting themselves in harm's way,'' Dr Watson
''Close curtains to dampen noise and prevent flashes of light
from affecting your pet. Use familiar sounds, such as the TV,
to further drown out the sound of fireworks. When you're sure
fireworks are over, reassure and comfort your pet and help
Guy Fawkes Night, or Gunpowder Treason Day as it was
originally known, celebrates the capture of Guy Fawkes while
he plotting to blow up the English House of Lords and
assassinate King James I on November 5, 1605.
Fireworks are available from today till Tuesday, but sales
are restricted to people aged 18 and older.
• Have a designated non-drinking person in charge of
• Do not expose your front when setting off fireworks. Set
them off side-on.
• Have a fire extinguisher on hand.
• Soak used fireworks in a bucket of water.
• Always light one firework at a time.
• Keep pets safe indoors.
• Never fool around with fireworks. Even sparklers can reach
980degC, which is hot enough to melt gold.
• Never attempt to relight a dud firework.
• Make sure skyrockets are set off from a stable
• Do not set off fireworks near dry vegetation.
• Keep bonfires manageable and ensure they are extinguished
before going to bed.