Ophthalmologist wants a ban on private fireworks

Fireworks ForecastFireworks: Anette Karlsen / NTB scanpix
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Ophthalmologist Nils Bull wants to ban private fireworks on New Year’s Eve. The same goes for the Norwegian Society for Animal Protection (Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge) and the Veterinary Association.

For the first time, they have joined forces to urge the authorities to ban private firework launches.

Instead, professional pyrotechnics should mark the beginning of the new year, they believe.

“Then we will end the long series of injuries that we have had for so many years,” says Bull, who is a senior physician at Haukeland University Hospital’s Ophthalmology Department, to NTB.

The Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) suggested earlier this year that Norway should prohibit the private use of fireworks, according to Nationen.

16 injuries last year
Bull has been fighting for a ban for a number of years. In 2005, he began to record serious eye injuries as a result of fireworks accidents. That year, 28 people were injured. Following the introduction of the stick-rocket ban in 2008, the number of injuries dropped to 10 and remained there for two years. Since then, the number of injured has been between 15 and 18 people. Last year, 16 people suffered serious eye injuries in connection with the New Year fireworks.

In addition, there are a lot of minor eye injuries, as well as serious hand injuries and burns, which are treated at the emergency room.

“Each one of these injuries is absolutely unnecessary. We cannot continue with this,” says Bull, who first proposed a ban in 2007.

“If I had been heard in 2007, we would have avoided 170 injuries. If I am heard now, we can avoid 244 injuries over the next 14 years,” he says.

Looking to Sweden
He and the Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge are now requesting that each municipality draw up a plan for joint marking of the year-end in the minutes around midnight on December 31st. Every municipality should be free to restrict or prohibit fireworks, they believe.

“We are requesting the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the country’s municipalities to look to Sweden, where several municipalities offer alternative celebrations in the form of laser light shows, which saves people, animals and the environment,” says general manager Åshild Roaldset of Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge.

Worst day of the year
The Veterinary Association also wants a fireworks ban.

“For some animals, New Year’s Eve is the worst day of the year,” President Torill Moseng told Nationen.

“We also believe that private firework launches should not be legal and that there should only be state-approved firework shows. Then you can know where they are launching. This is what a hearing will be about in the New Year,” says Moseng, who points out that both wild and domestic animals can react to the bangs, light and smoke that come when the rockets are fired.

“It can cause many animals to get noise-phobia and become very anxious,” she says.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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