The safest way to enjoy bonfire night is to attend a professionally organised display. NHS A&E services attended well over 4000 firework injuries in 2017/18, with over 350 pre-school children treated in hospital for firework injuries in the past five years. RoSPA say many more accidents happen at smaller family or private events than at public displays. However, if you prefer the more hands-on experience of lighting your own fireworks, make sure you follow the firework code.
- Only purchase fireworks from a reputable shop and look for the CE and BS 7114 labels on the box to ensure they are up to standard.
- Plan your fireworks display and prepare in advance, preferably in daylight so you have a better sense of your surroundings.
- Keep fireworks in a closed box, only removing then as you are about to use them.
- Read and follow the instructions carefully on each firework. Always make sure the fireworks are suitable for the area you’re setting them off in.
- Never put fireworks in your pocket. Store them in the box they came in or in a metal box with a lid.
- Never throw fireworks (including sparklers). It is illegal to do so (you could be fined up to £5000).
- Angle fireworks well away from spectators and buildings.
- Light the firework at arm’s length. Do so with a taper or safety lighter.
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit. Even if it doesn’t look like it’s been lit properly or it has fallen over, it could still explode. Don’t risk it – you and others will be safer if you just leave it alone.
- Stand well back from fireworks, away from the direction it’s facing. Safe spectator distances are usually recommended on the fireworks.
- Remember that sparklers are still fireworks, burning at a temperature similar to that of deep-fat fryer oil. Hold them at arm’s length and wear gloves.
If you plan to have a bonfire too, check out a few extra safety tips as they can quickly get out of control:
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.
- Keep children and pets away from the bonfire – remember that clothes, including fancy dress can catch fire very easily.
- Don’t leave any fire unattended.
- Don’t throw any fireworks or other explosive items (eg aerosol cans!) into the fire.
- Don’t burn materials like plastics or rubber, as they may release toxic gases.
- Ensure the fire is out completely using water at the end of the event – remember that the bonfire site will be hot for hours afterwards.
And, although neither fireworks nor bonfires, remember these points too:
- Naked flames of any size can be dangerous – check candles and lit pumpkins are away from combustible items, out of the reach of children and properly extinguished at the end of the evening.
- Food: hot bowls of soup and dishes straight from the oven can burn. Easy to forget when your fingers are nearly numb!
- Be aware of the possibility of arson and burglary – keep outside areas free of combustible rubbish and remember to lock doors and windows, even if you’re only in the back garden!
- Ensure fire alarms (including domestic smoke alarms) are working and that any fire fighting equipment is fully operational.