Burns specialists in the South West are urging people to take extra care this weekend, to avoid adding to the annual toll of serious injury in bonfire and firework accidents.

Over the past decade, around 40 people each year have needed treatment at specialist burns units as a result of fireworks accidents, and 100 as a result of bonfire accidents. Many more suffer minor burns, treatable locally.

Specialist burns services in Plymouth, Salisbury and Bristol see most serious cases, while people with the worst injuries will generally be transported to the tertiary Adult Burns Centre for the South West, based at Morriston Hospital, Swansea.

Mr Jeremy Yarrow, Consultant Burns and Plastic Surgeon at the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery in Swansea, said: “Every year, hospitals in the South West see the results when bonfires and fireworks go wrong. Burns can be horrific, even fatal, so we’d urge everyone to follow the RoSPA guidance and the firework code – especially when there are children around.

“Do go to a properly-organised event if possible, and if you can’t, then please make sure you buy licensed fireworks and follow all the instructions.

“People tend to think it can’t happen to them. But every year, it does happen, to children and adults alike.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) advises that the safest place to enjoy fireworks is at a large public display as the risk of being injured is much lower than at smaller family or private parties.

It also provides advice on its website on how to stay safe around sparklers, bonfires and fireworks.

Figures from NHS England show that the number of people visiting the burns and scalds advice page of the NHS website increases by a quarter (27%) during the weekend of bonfire night. The page receives an average of 8,208 visits during the firework-fuelled weekend – equivalent to one visit every 21 seconds.

The page provides first aid advice on treating burns and scalds, such as:

Getting the person away from the heat source immediately

Removing any clothing or jewellery near the burnt skin

Cooling the burn with cool or lukewarm running water for 20 to 30 minutes, and not using iced water or any creams or greases like butter

Keeping the person warm with blankets, not touching the burnt area

Once the burn is cool, covering it with cling film or a clean plastic bag

Using painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any pain

Raising the affected area to reduce any swelling

Dialling 999 for acid or chemical burns, removing contaminated clothing and rinsing the burn with as much clean water as possible