Firework safety advice for New Year’s Eve as citizens’ initiative hits target

Some of the common sense advice for handling fireworks is not always so common...

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Many people across the country will be watching firework displays as 2018 turns into 2019.

Unsurprisingly it’s one of the busiest nights of the year for Finnish firefighters as they get called out to medical alerts, as well as fires.

“Most of the New Year’s Eve, the tasks are medical related. But we have our peak, say from 11pm to 2am” says Riku Rantala, Divisional Officer at Länsi-Uusimaa Department for Rescue Services.

“Usually somebody manages to shoot a rocket into somebody’s house or other building” he adds.

There is some common sense advice to follow if you plan to set off your own fireworks this evening – although watch out for high winds. Helsinki Fire Department already said they would be keeping an eye on the New Year’s Eve weather to see whether it’s still safe to see off pyrotechnics in high winds.

“Read the manual of that particular device. Do not improvise” says Rantala. “If you are not able to read the manual you are either too drunk or not able to fire that device anyway”.

Rantala, who has more than 30 years experience as a fireman, says of course you should only handle fireworks when you’re sober, and don’t let kids take control of the fireworks display either.

“Protect your eyes and ears… and think about the area you are actually sending the rockets. You need to have space around you. Usually they are planned to go up vertically but sometimes they do it horizontally and that’s a problem with crowds or properties” he tells News Now Finland.

Keeping pets indoors 

The loud noises from fireworks can be really distressing for family pets, so keep them indoors tonight.

Don’t just leave your dog in the garden, bring it into the house, and make sure also they can’t slip away from a collar or lead if they become frightened.

Make sure to schedule your dog walking in advance of the fireworks starting. One way to calm the dog down is to keep the radio or television on, and pull the curtains.

If your pet escapes, call the Search Dog Association on 040 724 8614 or visit their website for more information.

While fireworks are on sale in many supermarkets at this time of year, one Helsinki store is taking a stand against it, because of the distress they can cause to animals.

The K-Supermarket in Redi shopping centre says it won’t be selling any fireworks this year.

“We have decided not to sell fireworks. At New Year, many dogs are frightened and are afraid of fireworks. There are a lot of dog owners in Kalasatama, so we want to make their situation easier in the new year. The environmental impact of fireworks is, in our opinion, not very sensible, too” the store managers wrote on Facebook recently.

Espoo goes firework-free

Not every Finnish city is planning pyrotechnics for New Year’s Eve. The country’s second largest city Espoo has decided to forget the fireworks and use lasers instead.

It’s the first time in a while the city has put on a public celebration on 31st December but city leaders felt the time was right to bring it back – but without pyrotechnics.

“At present, we do not see traditional fireworks as the right choice considering their environmental impact, so we will try something completely new” says Lea Rintala, Espoo’s Manager of Event and Cultural Services.

“We want to stay true to the city’s values and lead the way in a more sustainable way of celebrating New Year’s Eve and event culture” she says.

Citizens’ initiative wants to ban fireworks

Meanwhile a citizens’ initiative to ban fireworks has already received enough signatures to trigger an automatic review by parliament.

The petition was launched earlier in December, and has so far received more than 59,000 names. It aims to “reduce the inconvenience of fireworks to humans, animals and nature” by prohibiting certain kinds of pyrotechnics.