Hosting your own bonfire night firework display can be great family fun, but it’s important to make sure you’re celebrating safely. Fireworks and sparklers can be volatile if they aren’t handled correctly, so we’ve compiled some bonfire night safety tips on setting off fireworks properly, safely controlling your bonfire, and measures you can put in place to make sure everyone stays safe.
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FOLLOW THE FIREWORK SAFETY CODE
If you’re thinking of using fireworks as part of your festive celebrations, there are 10 safety rules for bonfire night that you should familiarise yourself with. The Firework Safety Code is made up of simple firework safety tips that will ensure everyone has a good time without getting hurt.
1. KEEP FIREWORKS IN A CLOSED BOX
Keeping fireworks in a closed box will reduce the risk of them accidentally setting off. You should also take fireworks out of the box one at a time, rather than emptying them all onto the ground to avoid damaging them.
2. BUY YOUR FIREWORKS FROM A REPUTABLE COMPANY
When choosing a retailer to buy fireworks from, make sure the retailer is licenced to sell fireworks by either the Fire Service or Local Council. When purchasing your fireworks, make sure they are marked CE and BS 7114 to confirm they are in line with British Standards. If they aren’t, avoid using them at your bonfire night celebrations.
3. FOLLOW THE FIREWORK INSTRUCTIONS CORRECTLY
This may seem a simple point, but failing to read firework instructions correctly can result in unwanted injury and harm. Firework instructions can provide further firework safety information and inform you if the area you are planning on setting them off in is suitable.
4. DO NOT THROW FIREWORKS
Not only could throwing fireworks cause danger and harm to those attending your bonfire night display, it’s also illegal. If you use fireworks illegally you can be fined up to £5000 and imprisoned for up to 6 months.
5. NEVER PUT FIREWORKS IN YOUR POCKETS
Carrying fireworks in your pocket can be extremely dangerous as the friction from your clothes may cause them to set off. Instead, keep them stored in the box they came in or a metal box with a secure lid.
6. LIGHT FIREWORKS AT ARM’S LENGTH
The safest way to light fireworks is to use a safety gas lighter (otherwise known as a ‘clicker’). Once lit, ensure you and your guests move out of the area to avoid harm.
7. PLAN YOUR FIREWORK DISPLAY IN ADVANCE
Even though bonfire night celebrations happen when it’s dark, it’s a good idea to prepare your fireworks in daylight when you have a better sense of your surroundings. You should also ensure that you are not setting off loud fireworks late at night, and that your firework display finishes before 12 pm. According to the law, you must not set fire works off between 11 PM and 7 AM. Bonfire night is an exception, where the cut off is midnight, along with Diwali, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year where the cut off is 1 AM.
8. MAKE SURE YOUR FIREWORKS ARE DIRECTED AWAY FROM SPECTATORS
To keep your friends and family safe, be sure to read the recommended safe spectator distances that can be found in the firework instructions.
9. ENSURE CHILDREN ARE SUPERVISED AT ALL TIMES
Bonfire night fireworks are exciting for little ones, but as children may not grasp the consequences of not following firework safety precautions, they need adult supervision at all times.
10. NEVER RETURN TO A FIREWORK AFTER IT HAS BEEN LIT
It’s easy to forget that fireworks are explosives, so even if it doesn’t look like the firework has been lit properly, or it has fallen over, it can still go off. It will be safer for you and everyone else if you just leave it alone.
GENERAL BONFIRE NIGHT SAFETY TIPS
As well as following the firework safety code, there are a few general bonfire night safety tips you should bear in mind:
- Allocate one person to set off fireworks. Having one person in charge of lighting fireworks means that fewer people are put at risk
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. To ensure firework safety, nominate someone who isn’t drinking alcohol to take charge of the display. Alcohol should also be kept well away from fireworks and bonfires
- Make sure your guests are kept at a safe distance. Marking a line on the ground will provide a clear barrier for your guests, so they’ll know where it is safe to stand. You should also adhere to the spectator distance guidance that can be found in your firework instructions
- Keep your furry friends indoors. Bonfire night can be a scary time for pets, so ensure that windows, doors and curtains are kept closed to reduce the sounds of explosions. You could also turn on the TV or radio as background noise to help distract them. Do not try to coax them out of hiding, as this may end up frightening them more
- Learn some basic first aid. Learning how to treat minor burns and scalds is always a good firework safety precaution, but if the injury is more severe call for emergency services immediately
SAFETY WITH SPARKLERS
Although sparklers are lots of fun for your little ones, there are some sparkler safety tips you can follow to help keep them safe:
- Sparklers are dangerous for children under 5. Sparklers are extremely hot in temperature, so they should not be given to under 5s. Children over the age of 5 should still be supervised by an adult
- Always wear gloves when handling sparklers. You should also make sure that there is no bare skin on show by wearing long sleeved clothing
- Don’t wave sparklers closely to other people. Ensure that there is enough distance between the sparkler and other people to make sure everyone stays safe
- Put sparklers into cold water when you have finished with them. Keep plenty of water buckets nearby so that people can extinguish their sparklers straight away