Hopes and fears as fireworks night approaches *H&H Plus*

  • Coronavirus restrictions could mean more smaller displays — but there are positives on the horizon for horse owners. H&H spoke to charities and campaigners to find out more

    CONCERNS have been raised about a possible increase in home firework displays as public events are cancelled owing to the pandemic – but a Government debate and a new awareness campaign are “positive steps”.

    A national RSPCA poll of 2,274 adults in the UK found 21% plan to have fireworks at home this year, up from 11% in the 2019 poll. Only 49% said they think about the impact fireworks can have on animals.
    RSPCA animal welfare expert Mark Kennedy said coronavirus restrictions mean very few organised public displays are likely to go ahead.

    “Owing to restrictions on households mixing, we fear there will be lots of little displays over weeks and weeks, spreading out fireworks noise and causing prolonged distress for animals,” he said.

    Tony Tyler, deputy chief executive of World Horse Welfare, agreed that there are likely to be more home fireworks this year, and this could result in many horses and owners put at an increased risk of injury.

    “We are asking everybody planning on using fireworks, no matter how many, to let [nearby] horse owners and yards know so they are able to make the necessary preparations or, if possible, move their horse to a more suitable area to reduce the risk of them sustaining an injury, which could be life-threatening,” he told H&H.

    On 20 October a safety campaign was launched by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), providing safety tips on using fireworks responsibly, with references to pets and vulnerable people.

    The British Horse Society (BHS) is supporting the Government campaign and will provide the OPSS with statistics.

    “I urge our equine community to report any firework concerns to the BHS. It is vital we gather this evidence, so we can provide the OPSS with data across the UK to assist with decisions around fireworks in the future,” said BHS director of safety Alan Hiscox.

    Today (2 November), the Government was due to debate a petition calling for a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public. The petition received 305,579 signatures last year before it was closed.

    Fireworks campaigner Julie Doorne told H&H the debate and campaign are positive steps.

    “The Government must realise something must be done; the issues aren’t going away,” she said. “It could be so easy to take action by introducing licences for buying fireworks with restrictions, such as that people must notify others in the area before letting off fireworks.”