In Catalonia many popular and traditional festivals are held in summer-. Most of these festivities imply the use of pyrotechnical materials and the ignition of bonfires.
The safety tips issued by Civil Protection are aimed at minimizing the risks that this –kind of material entails, either for people or for the environment.
Before handling the firecrackers
- Purchase your fireworks from -licensed retailers, who sell products meeting safety standards.
- Avoid carrying firecrackers or fireworks in your pockets
- Read the instructions of each product before igniting.
Igniting the firecrackers
- Do not hold firecrackers in your hands.
- Keep them away from your face and body.
- Always light firework products with an extended lighting device.
- Light the fuse only at the very tip in order to have the time to get away from it.
- If a firecracker has not gone off, do not touch it until at least half an hour later and soak it with water.
- Do not throw firecrackers at another person.
Where to ignite firecrackers safely
- Never set off firecrackers within 500 metres of a forest or -close to large numbers of people.
- Wherever a festival is being held, gather your laundry, fold your awnings, close doors and windows.
- Do not light any firecracker inside a building.
- Do not throw or handle any firecracker from balconies or windows.
- Ensure that there are no flammable liquids near firecrackers. They can ignite easily and blow up.
Do not manipulate firecrackers
- Do not cut the end of a string of firecrackers. They can blow up violently.
- Never place firecrackers inside glass bottles or bricks. They can scatter dangerous small pieces leading to serious injuries.
Safety Tips for “Correfocs”*
*Correfocs: kind of parade of fire-spitting beasts that light fireworks, while dancing to the beat of drums mainly held in Catalonia.
Safety tips for the neighbours
- Take any object out of the way where the “correfoc” is expected to pass by, as for example flowerpots, garbage bags, tables, chairs etc. in order to avoid any accident.
- Withdraw your car from the parade passage. By doing this you will prevent people from getting injured as well as possible damages to your car.
- Close the doors, windows and openings of your house properly to prevent any entry of lighted flying crackers which can start a fire.
- Gather your laundry off the line and fold all your awnings to avoid to start a fire.
- However hard the “correfoc” participants insist on you throwing them water to relieve the heat, do not do it. The black powder could get wet and thus explode or it can set off unexpectedly towards any direction instead of burning.
Safety tips for “correfocs” spectators
- Gather all the information regarding the route of the “correfoc” and follow the directions of the organizers and officers for a successful event.
- The most suitable clothing for the event is that made of cotton, long-sleeve T-shirts, long trousers, hats made from fabric and leather sport footwear.
- Should you catch fire, drop to the floor and roll over to smother the flames. Do not run because this would feed air to the flames and worsen the fire.
- Wait to view the parade in a wide sidewalk or area and if possible stay away from large crowds and congested points.
- Cooperate by not asking the spectators for water. In this way, you will avoid slippery streets as well as getting the black powder soaked, which would cause it to blow up instead of burning.
Safety tips for the neighbours
- Make sure that all the buildings in the neighbourhood have windows and balconies closed to prevent any spark or firecracker from getting inside the place and start a fire.
- Take down any awnings you may have out on your terraces.
- Allow a 15 meter distance from parked cars.
- Do not allow anyone to jump over the fire.
- You need authorisation to light a bonfire: you should notify your city council the location where you are planning to light the bonfire.
- The bonfires must allow the circulation of emergency vehicles.
Choosing the right place for a bonfire
- Do not build any bonfire without a permit.
- Site the bonfire at least 15 meters away from any building.
- It is forbidden to make fires in the forests of Catalonia, no matter if they are filled with trees or not and within 500 meter away from those.
- If you are planning to build a bonfire in an open space, clean all the dry grass or other flammable material
- In addition, you should ensure emergency vehicles can get access to the site.
- In order not to damage the road surface, cover it with a layer of soil or sand (at least 10 cm thick). This is a must if the road surface is made of asphalt. You will also need a permit issued by your town council.
- Do not build any bonfire near a waterproof partition wall; the heat will make it expand and could cause permanent damage.
Materials used to build a bonfire
- You must be careful with what you burn. Use materials which turn into ember, especially wood.
- Do not burn papers or fabrics, because the wind can lift them up.
- Never use drums, cans or aerosol spray cans, since they can blow up. Do neither use rubber nor plastics because they are highly pollutant materials.
- As a general safety rule, you should start by building a small bonfire and little by little proceed adding more materials to the fire.
- Even if it is slower and less spectacular, start the bonfire by lighting it at different points, using paper or straw. Never use flammable liquids like paraffin or petrol to get it going as this can result in uncontrolled spread of fire or explosion.
- You should not attempt to light a bonfire when it is windy. Leave it for another day since it could turn the event into a real tragedy.
Putting out the bonfire
- Ensure you have at all times some means to put out the fire if necessary (buckets filled with water, hoses, fire extinguishers and so forth)
- Before leaving the site, extinguish the fire completely; do not forget to pour some water over the embers to avoid any incident.
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