More people these days are opting to attend specially organised fireworks displays carried out under strict safety regulations on Bonfire Night.

However, there are still those who prefer to have friends and family round for celebrations in their own back garden, though the numbers are steadily falling.

The threatened firefighters'

strike has led to calls for organisers of events not to light bonfires and to take extra precautions.

Whatever people choose to do, the run up to Bonfire Night and the night itself will still lead to numerous cases of burns and accidents.

Hospitals in Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne and Haywards Heath regularly have to deal with injuries caused by fireworks and burns.

In 2001, the number of people injured by fireworks was 1,362. These injuries occurred over a four-week period around November 5.

Out of those, 787 involved teenagers and children under 17. The majority of incidents were minor burns and scalds but there were also 372 eye injuries.

Despite annual safety warnings, Bonfire Night week still ends in disaster for far too many families.

But health and fire experts say as long as everyone follows the correct safety procedures and remembers that fireworks can be dangerous if misused, a good, safe time may be enjoyed by everyone.

Burns and scalds can range in severity from those which are trivial to those resulting in injuries that lead to death.

Both can cause injuries to body tissues ranging from slight inflammation to complete tissue death.

Anyone present when someone gets burned can do a lot to reduce the damage by cooling the burnt area.

If possible, get the affected part under a cold tap and keep it there until the person starts to complain of the cold. In general, the more extensive the burn, the more serious it is. Even a surface burn may require hospital treatment if it affects a large area of the body.

Burns may affect the surface layer of the skin only, causing redness, swelling and tenderness.

Burns that go no deeper than that normally heal well without leaving any scars.

Deeper burns cause separation of the outer skin layer, the epidermis, from the true skin below, in the form of a fluid-filled blister.

So long as the true skin remains intact, complete healing is possible. Such burns, however, can easily become infected.

The deepest kind of burns cause damage to the true skin and sometimes the tissues under the skin.

These burns may not hurt very much because the nerves with which you feel pain have been destroyed.

But they are always serious and will cause disfiguring scarring.

Fire brigades in East and West Sussex have issued a series of guidelines aimed at helping people avoid injuries. These include only buying fireworks marked with the British Standard Kitemark and not drinking alcohol if setting off fireworks.

Fireworks should be kept in a closed box and instructions should be followed carefully.

Never go back to a firework once lit as, even if it hasn't gone off, it could explode.

Never throw fireworks and or put them in your pocket. Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.

Never give them to children under five.

When a sparkler goes out, don't touch it as it can still burn. Instead, put the hot end down in a bucket of water.

Sparklers are often regarded as harmless but they burn at fierce temperatures.

To a young child, the heat from a sparkler is the equivalent to the heat from a welding torch.

If you are intending to light a bonfire, follow these tips to keep safe:

Bonfires can get out of control if you are not careful.

Don't light them if it is windy.

Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences and hedges.

Never use flammable liquids to start the fire and never burn dangerous rubbish such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries.

Keep a bucket of water or a hosepipe handy in case you need it.

Don't leave bonfires unattended.

An adult should supervise it until everything has been burnt. If the bonfire has to be left, damp it down with water.

If you're having a firework display, light the bonfire afterwards so there's no risk of sparks or heat from the fire setting off the fireworks.

In the case of someone being injured, people can get advice from a specialist nurse by calling NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

Further fire safety
information is available at for people in East Sussex and for those in West Sussex.