Bonfire Night is one of the most nostalgic nights of the year – watching the fireworks and trying to write your name with sparklers always makes us feel like children again. It’s a chance to wrap up warm and watch a display with friends and family as the nights draw in, as well as enjoying warming snacks by the bonfire, like hot dogs and mulled wine.
Whether you’re celebrating at home or attending an event, it’s important to stay safe. Plus, if you’ve got young children or pets, you can do bonfire night without the bang by opting for quieter ways to mark Guy Fawkes Night.
How do you stay safe on bonfire night?
Legally, fireworks can only be set off til midnight. Outside of New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year you can’t set them off between 11pm and 7am or you risk a fine. The London Fire Brigade recommends attending an organised event rather than doing them at home to be on the safe side. Whatever your plans, remember, remember our tips for staying safe on Bonfire Night.
1. Choose the right fireworks
If hosting your own firework display at home, make sure the fireworks you buy are suitable for home use and for the size of your garden, and check that they are marked with British Standard number BS 7114. Read the safety information on the box and the manufacturer’s instructions.
Store fireworks in a metal box and take them out one at a time. Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks, and do not return to a firework once it has been lit. Needless to say, fireworks should be pointed away from spectators.
2. Leave plenty of space
Build your bonfire away from your home and any garden sheds, fences, trees, outbuildings and telephone wires. Ensure that you and your guests stand well away from the fire and the firework area. You may even wish to put up a barrier so that everyone knows the safety boundaries.
3. Check for animals
Always ensure that there are no sleeping animals hidden among the branches of the bonfire. ‘If possible, try to leave the bonfire building until the day you’re lighting it. The longer it is left, the higher the chances of a curious hedgehog finding it and calling it home,’ says Eric Michels, Head of Pro at CJ Wildlife (opens in new tab). ‘However, if building your bonfire on the day isn’t possible, I suggest popping tall chicken wire around the bonfire to deter wildlife from climbing inside.’
4. Check the wind direction
‘Pay attention to the wind direction – once lit, the smoke will drift in the direction of the wind,’ says Garden Buildings Direct (opens in new tab). ‘You may need to dampen the fire if smoke begins to blow towards you or a neighbour’s house.’
5. Take care when lighting the fire
Garden Buildings Direct warns against using petrol, paraffin or accelerants to encourage the fire as these can easily lead to a loss of control of the fire. Avoid lighting it on dead grass or dry leaves, and don’t use treated or painted wood as paint is flammable and could make it harder to extinguish. Once lit, don’t leave the fire unattended.
6. Prepare an emergency water supply
Make sure you have some buckets or a hose pipe close to the bonfire to dampen it or distinguish the flames if things become dangerous, and never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire – it’s much safer to use firelighters.
7. Protect your pets
With all the loud bangs and squeals from fireworks, your pets can get very scared around bonfire night. Follow our tips on how to calm your dog down and keep them inside the house so they don’t get near to the bonfire or fireworks. Close all windows and curtains to reduce the sound of the explosions.
8. Be savvy with sparklers
Sparklers are fun for children and adults alike! Enjoy them safely by lighting them in a space that is open but not too windy. Ensure that everyone holding sparklers is wearing gloves and holds the sparkler horizontally, as far away from their face and body as possible. When the sparkler is no longer burning, put it in a bucket of water to cool down.
9. Clear up after the display
After the party, pour water on the remainder of the bonfire instead of leaving it to burn out. Ensure that you haven’t left any unlit fireworks laying around as you don’t want any nasty accidents in the days following.
Follow these top tips and your Bonfire Night should be one to remember – for all the right reasons!
10. Don’t hesitate
‘If any bonfires appear to be getting out of control this Bonfire Night, back away from the fire and call 999 immediately, and request the Fire & Rescue Service,’ says Garden Buildings Direct.