Police and fire chiefs are urging people to stay safe this Halloween and Bonfire Night as the county continues to see an increase in Covid-19 infections.
Both trick-or-treating and home firework displays are being discouraged this year in a bid to reduce mixing between households and prevent additional demand being placed on the emergency services and NHS.
Instead of traditional trick-or-treating, families are being encouraged to take part in a pumpkin trail, when parents and guardians give treats to their children whenever they spot a pumpkin picture in a window.
Assistant Chief Constable Simon Blatchly, from Northamptonshire Police, said: “I understand that young children particularly get excited about Halloween and the theatre of trick-or-treating, however, 2020 is different to other years and it is vital that everyone follows the law.
“We will have increased patrols in place across the county during Halloween to ensure those people who do want to venture out are able to have a safe and enjoyable time.
“However, it is important to remember that not everyone enjoys Halloween and that people’s anxiety about the event may be heightened because of Covid-19. Anti-social behaviour can have a significant impact on other people and we are asking that you respect other people and their wishes.”
The ‘Rule of Six’ dictates that groups of no more than six people should mix indoors or outdoors, however, this would change should Northamptonshire move into the high tier, at which point only bubbles can mix inside and groups of no more than six outside.
A policing operation will be taking place throughout Halloween and into next week, ahead of Bonfire Night.
Almost all professional firework displays have been cancelled this year and so there are concerns that more people than usual will opt to celebrate bonfire night at home.
Having bonfires and setting off fireworks are being discouraged in a bid to reduce demand on Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and the NHS.
Asst Chief Fire Officer Shaun Hallam from NFRS, said: “Bonfires can get out of hand very quickly and it’s vital that people follow the instructions for fireworks by the letter or things can go disastrously wrong.
“I appreciate that we are asking a lot of people, as bonfire night is usually such a fun time, however, we are asking people to not only protect themselves but also the emergency services and NHS at a time when demand is high.
“That said, I understand some people will still want to go ahead with their own displays, so we have provided some safety tips to help ensure you and your family remain as safe as possible.”
Lucy Wightman, Director of Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council says: “Sadly, in common with so many events this year, we’re not able to celebrate Halloween and Bonfire Night in the ways we usually do.
“Many activities, such as trick or treating or attending large public firework displays, don’t meet national COVID-19 guidelines so can’t take place. However, it’s important to remember that these restrictions are in place to protect your children, your friends, your parents, as well as yourselves. The simple fact is that the virus is spreading further into our community, with evidence showing that transmission is primarily within and between households and so, if we don’t mix, we don’t spread.
“So we’re asking residents to enjoy the festivities but to not mix households. And of course to follow hands, face, space rules. Don’t pass sweets or sparklers between anyone outside your household as this could spread the virus and do wash your hands thoroughly before leaving your house and on your return. Your Halloween mask isn’t a suitable alternative to a face mask, as it won’t offer the same level of protection, and please stay two metres apart from people you do not live with, or one metre with extra precautions such as face masks if this isn’t possible.”
Safety tips this Halloween:
Don’t meet in groups of more than six and stay outside if possible
Give candles a break and keep them fake. Please use artificial instead of real candles in pumpkins and as decorations
If there are any real candles in the house, make sure children and pets are kept well clear
Whether you are dressing as a vicious vampire or a wicked witch, remember that costumes can catch fire and cause burns
If costumes catch fire, remember to ‘STOP, DROP AND ROLL’. Stand still, drop to the ground with your hands covering your face, roll from side to side until the flames are out
Firework safety tips:
Always follow the instructions that come with fireworks
Keep children a safe distance from fireworks
Children aged 5 and under should NOT be allowed to handle sparklers
Older children should wear gloves and be closely supervised
Only buy fireworks from reputable dealers
Fireworks should carry a CE mark
Light at arm’s length, with a taper
Never go near a firework that has been lit. Even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode
Keep fireworks in a closed metal box well away from the bonfire or any other sources of heat or fire
Keep pets indoors
Remember, fireworks cannot be let off between 11pm and 7am except on Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight, and New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is 1am
Bonfire safety tips:
Bonfires can easily spread out of control and lead to accidents so NFRS would advise against them, but for those planning them, here are some safety tips.
Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, roads, garden sheds, fences, trees and hedges and, if possible, choose somewhere sheltered from wind
Before you light the bonfire, check whether any pets, wildlife or small children have crawled inside
Always keep a bucket of water or a working hosepipe nearby
Never use flammable liquids to start a bonfire and never burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries
Once the bonfire has died down, pour water on the embers to stop it reigniting
If any part of your clothing catches on fire remember to STOP, DROP and ROLL. Stop where you are, drop to the ground and roll around to prevent the flames spreading