Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sant Juan: An explosive night to remember

One thing that shocked me soon after moving here was that many parents in Spain are quite blasé about letting their children play with fireworks. I personally witnessed a very nasty example of this at our first Sant Juan’s Day celebrations.

A (then 5 year old) friend of my son’s had been allowed to play with firecrackers by himself for several hours and with little direct supervision by his parents. This boy was standing very close to a small bonfire in the square where we were and he threw some kind of cracker into. As was likely, it exploded, injuring a girl nearby as well as damaging this boy’s face and eyes. My wife had the presence of mind to throw water in his eyes and he was rushed screaming to a hospital for treatment.

Judging purely from the size of the blast from the fire, I would say the boy was quite fortunate to have not suffered permanent eye damage. (Perhaps the only pleasing result from that is that because our son also saw this happen to his friend, he still has a strong fear of firecrackers years after the event.)

Another who shares these concerns is Juan Pedro Barret, the head of the burns unit at the Vall d'Hebron hospital in Barcelona. Doctor Barret is fed up of seeing injuries caused by the misuse of fireworks, including the need for hands, fingers and feet to be amputated.

He believes that the night of Sant Juan is always one of the worst times to have to be on duty in the accident and emergency department. According to him there is a constant flow of injured people but that after the mid-nineties when safety measures improved the number of those seriously harmed has decreased somewhat.

In one El Pais newspaper poll (of 2165 people) 70% supported the placement of restrictions on festivals with fireworks due to danger.

Please let me know what you think…

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