The Netherlands is known for its extensive use of fireworks in celebrating New Year’s Eve. Officially, fireworks can be lit between 1000 on Tuesday, December 31, 2013, to 0200 on Wednesday, January 1, 2014. The legal sale of fireworks (for those aged 16 years and older) starts on the morning of Friday, December 27, 2013. For those unfamiliar with this celebration, it can be quite distressing for young children and pets.
What will the police do to prevent these problems?
The Dutch police have zero tolerance for people using fireworks before or after the permitted times/dates. Illegally purchased/ stored fireworks and all remaining fireworks in possession will be seized from any individuals or groups if caught before that date. Anyone under the age of 16 found possessing fireworks may be sent to HALT, the Dutch juvenile reform bureau, for mandatory awareness training.
Some trends you should be aware during the permitted firework time:
1. Groups throw fireworks indiscriminately on the street and in gardens.
2. Fireworks are tossed fireworks in mailboxes, dumpsters, and garbage containers; causing damage to the owner’s property.
3. Fireworks are thrown at pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, and pets, and in mail slots.
4. Fireworks may be launched from holes in street manhole covers.
5. Stacking and setting fire to old Christmas trees at various (designated) locations on public streets.
6. Possibility of increased criminal activity over New Year’s Eve, especially in areas frequented by large crowds.
When could problems occur?
In particular, right before and after New Year’s Eve; right after the sale of fireworks begins, and at locations where young people gather. Normally this is from dusk until after midnight.
What can you do to improve your safety?
Adults should always directly supervise children who are handling fireworks. Be alert and extremely cautious of fireworks lit in your direct vicinity. Beware of unexploded fireworks lying on the ground – consider such items as “live.” When lighting fireworks, remember they can explode sooner than expected, and can follow a different route than planned. Avoid wearing nylon or other flammable clothing and always use eye protection. Never keep lit fireworks in hands or pockets. In case of injury, call 112, or go immediately to the nearest hospital.
What can you do to prevent or minimize problems, damage or loss?
Inform your children that the police will inevitably be called in regarding any dealings involving illegal fireworks; i.e., possessing (illegal) fireworks or lighting fireworks before 1000 on Dec 31. Keep your windows, including transom windows closed and garbage containers out of reach. Empty your outside mailbox and if removable, bring the mailbox inside as soon as mail has been delivered. If you have a mail opening in your door, close it with wood or hard plastic (using screws or tape). Use your external light fixtures to illuminate your garden, and set timers to illuminate the interior of your unoccupied premises. Call 112 if you observe or hear people causing dangerous situations by throwing fireworks in your vicinity.
U.S. citizens in the Netherlands are reminded, in general, that if at any time you feel threatened or in danger, please call the Dutch authorities immediately by dialing 1-1-2 for emergency service response from Dutch police, rescue, and fire departments.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in the Netherlands enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the embassy or nearest consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
We also recommend you regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. You can also read the Country Specific Information for the Netherlands. For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website.
Contact the consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Google Play market to have travel information at your fingertips.
The U.S. Consulate General in Amsterdam is located at Museumplein 19, 1071 DJ, Amsterdam and is open from 8 AM to 4:30 PM (Monday-Friday). If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the Consulate is (31) (0)70-310 2209.
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