Bonfire Night – that wonderful annual Autumnal event that gives the perfect reason to get family and friends together to enjoy some fun and cheer. Before we gather around the bonfire together and gaze in wonder as fireworks light up the night sky, first let’s refresh our memories and run through some Bonfire Night safety tips and advice to help keep everyone safe and ensure that the evening is a booming success!
Bonfire Safety Advice
Building the bonfire, ready for friends and family to gather, is part of the fun of the night. Choose a spot with plenty of space around and away from trees and bushes, fences and sheds or overhead wires. Be sure to check that nothing harmful to the environment, toxic or explosive has been placed on the bonfire. As a good rule of thumb only burn untreated wood to avoid toxic fumes. Avoid burning cardboard and paper as these embers travel quite far and can soon cause an unplanned inferno.
Although children will naturally be excited and drawn to the fire, enlist the help of your gathered friends and family to ensure that children and pets are kept away from the fire. This leaves you (or a nominated person) free to concentrate on the responsibility of tending to the fire.
Children might want to wear festive costumes to get into the spirit of things and it’s very important to check the labels to ensure that all parts of the costume are made from non-flammable materials. Dress up clothes, often are not as they are classed as toys, so a thorough check is advisable!
Finally, before lighting your bonfire, have a good poke around to check that local wildlife like hedgehogs have not made a burrow out of this handy pile of wood.
Two Buckets are better than One!
Have a bucket of sand and a bucket of water or hose on standby just in case the fire becomes out of control. It probably goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway!) never put fireworks or pour petrol or any flammable substance onto the fire to ‘get it going’. Good things come to those who wait so let the fire take slowly and naturally.
Once the night is over and the fire has died down, be sure to spray the dying embers with water to ensure that it stays dormant.
Firework Safety Advice
Boom! Pop! Whoosh! The magical sounds of fireworks lighting up the sky. If you have decided to have a firework display, following a few safety tips will ensure that all are able to enjoy it safely.
In the UK, fireworks can only be purchased and let off by an adult so no matter how much the children or teenagers might beg, it’s not only safest but it is the law for an adult to be in charge of your pyrotechnics.
Remember, you can only let off fireworks on Bonfire Night between 7am and midnight. You can purchase fireworks for private use for Bonfire Night between 15th October and 10th November, to avoid disappointment it might be best to buy your provisions early.
If you are purchasing fireworks for a display in the garden, check they are labelled as ‘Category F2’ and have a safety fuse and clear labelling with instructions on how to use them. This will also detail how much space each one needs so a measure up of the garden when planning your display will let you know which fireworks will be best. Fireworks should also carry the CE safety mark to show that they meet safety standards. Buying fireworks from a reputable source is the safest – the consequences of saving a few pounds by buying them from someone offering them cheaply elsewhere might be far more than you are willing to pay!
Tell your guests where they should stand, to not only stay safe but to enjoy the best view of the display. Choose a place well back from where the fireworks will be lit and have an adult ensure that everyone stays in the designated area. Use each firework in turn and keep the rest safely in their box. This will give you time to read the instructions carefully. A headtorch is helpful here, giving you two hands free to let the fireworks off. Again, it probably goes without saying, but we will, you should never smoke when letting off fireworks and always angle the projectiles away from the crowd. If a firework is lit but has not gone off, do not return to it. Douse it in water or place it in sand to ensure that it will not reignite at an inopportune time.
Children (and adults!) love a sparkler, drawing fiery, fizzy circles in the darkness. It’s important to remember that they should only be given to children over the age of 5 and children should be always supervised with them – the excitement often leads to the temptation to wave them around! Check that children are wearing gloves (non-flammable material too!) before holding their sparklers, or consider wedging the sparkler in a carrot for younger children to hold. The carrot is much easier for them to grasp, and it gives a little bit more distance away from the sparks. Having a bucket of water or sand on standby to cool the spent sparklers – your furry friends will thank you too. A discarded sparkler caught in a paw can be very painful indeed.
We hope you have found the information in this article helpful. Further safety information and advice can be found in this helpful article from the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service. All that is left for us to do is wish you all a safe and fun Bonfire Night!