AS WELL as the obvious signs of the onset of winter and the changing of clocks this coming weekend, this week marks the countdown to the annual Bonfire Night period.

Many of us see Bonfire Night as an opportunity to meet up with friends and family. As we are all aware, however, if not handled properly, fireworks can cause burns, eye injuries or worse, and the best way to protect yourself and your family is not to use any fireworks at home and to attend a public fireworks display.

In view of incidents during previous Bonfire Night periods, new powers have been introduced to help improve firework safety. As a result of the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022, new measures are now in force to help curb fireworks and pyrotechnic misuse in our communities and among these measures is the introduction of Firework Control Zones (FCZs).

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FCZs are designated places where the use of fireworks is restricted to organised public displays. Crucially, it is a power held by local authorities to reduce the negative impact of fireworks. In partnership with the Scottish Community Safety Network and COSLA, the Scottish Government undertook a programme of engagement with local authority officials and elected members this summer to raise awareness of FCZs.

In preparation for Bonfire Night, work is under way with key partners on various fronts. Three public information campaigns are being launched this month by the Scottish Government, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Crimestoppers Scotland, each focusing on a separate aspect of the law on fireworks.

We all know that fireworks have an extremely detrimental effect on birds and animals. Animals are incredibly sensitive to loud noise and, for our domestic pets and wildlife, the flashes of light and loud noises can cause an inordinate level of fear and distress. Enjoy Bonfire Night safely and responsibly, and please keep in mind our pets and our wildlife.