Dazzling firework displays, sizzling rockets; there's no denying Bonfire Night are a lot of fun for children.

But such fun doesn't come without risks, and it's crucial that mums and dads ensure their excited offspring come to no harm on what can be dark and dangerous nights.

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"Bonfire Night is great fun for families, but parents sometimes need reminding that occasionally things can go wrong," says Katrina Phillips, chief executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT). "And who needs their evening spoilt with a horrible, frantic dash to A&E?

"If you bear simple safety measures in mind though, it'll keep both nights fun and safe."

Bonfire Night needs parental caution. Sheila Merrill, public health adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says the most recent figures suggest that around 1,000 people visit A&E with firework-related injuries in the four weeks around Bonfire Night, with under-18s suffering half of the injuries.

"Parents need to make sure children and young people are aware of the dangers - fireworks are explosives that can maim them or someone else for life," she warns.

"They are not toys and should never be used as missiles."

Merrill says organised events are the safest place to enjoy a firework display, but adds: "If you can't get to one and hold your own, remember to put safety first and follow the firework code."

RoSPA says the most common firework injuries are to hands, followed by the eyes and face, and Phillips adds that many of these injuries are caused by sparklers.

"We wouldn't recommend giving sparklers to children under five, because they're too little to understand how dangerous they can be.

"Sparklers are often seen as safe, and are given to little children, but they can reach 2,000 degrees Celsius, which is five times hotter than cooking oil.

"So assuming you wouldn't have your three-year-old playing with your chip pan, think twice about giving them sparklers."


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Phillips says three sparklers burning together generate the same heat as a blowtorch, and warns that because they get so hot they take a long time to cool down - and children can be burned by them long after they've gone out. It's a good idea to put sparklers in a bucket of water when they've gone out.

CAPT advises that parents don't hold a sparkler while holding a baby, keep an eye on all children, and encourage them to wear gloves and not to run around waving sparklers.

It's also suggested that a nominated adult is the person responsible for keeping children away from the bonfire.

"Like you have designated drivers for nights out, you might want to have designated grown-ups for who's keeping an eye on the kids, making sure no kids get too close to the bonfire and fireworks," suggests Phillips.

"Otherwise, everybody thinks everybody else is doing it."

Justine Roberts, chief executive of the parent social networking site Mumsnet.com, warns that as in addition to all this safety, practical considerations are also worth bearing in mind with young children.

"Bonfire Night can be tricky with very small people," she says. "Plenty of them find the loud bangs quite upsetting, so take ear defenders.”

For more information about safer firework displays, visit the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) site www.saferfireworks.com