Firecrackers and rockets should be banned during the New Year’s Eve celebrations in order to cut back on injuries and damage to property, the Dutch safety board OVV said on Friday.
Some 500 people end up at accidents and emergency departments with serious injuries during the New Year’s Eve firework frenzy, making it the most dangerous time of the year in many places, the board said.
This means more effective measures must be taken at a local, national and European level, the board said in a report out on Friday.
The report also accused the authorities of complacency, citing police reports about ‘a quiet New Year’s Eve’ in spite of the number of victims. This is a vicious circle that needs to be broken, the board stated.
Rockets are the main cause of injuries, often because they are not set off properly while firecrackers are often thrown at passers-by or emergency services staff.
Police must also consistently crack down on illegal fireworks, the board said, and the production of professional fireworks without a legal market must be banned on a European level.
While the board is not recommending a ban on ‘decorative’ fireworks, it is urging the government to continue to monitor the connection between the kinds of fireworks on sale and the injuries reported.
The board also recommends that mayors of towns and cities organise an official New Year’s Eve party and bring in professionals to mount a fireworks display. Earlier this month, broadcaster NOS reported that just eight Dutch councils are organising communal fireworks shows at New Year.
Justice minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said in a reaction that the board’s recommendations would not have an impact on this year’s festivities because it is too late to take steps.
However, the report does include a number of ‘serious observations which should be taken to heart,’ the minister said.
Fireworks may only be set off between 18.00 hours on December 31 and 02.00 on January 1, rather than from 10.00.