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Safety First When it Comes to Fireworks

There's a certain nursery rhyme that's become synonymous with the 5th of November, better known as Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night. You know the one...

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
I see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!


The 5th of November is a time when thousands of people up and down the country mark the day when Guy Fawkes famously plotted to kill King James I. Although they weren't successful, the annual event sees us come together around oversized fires and fireworks that light up the night sky.

But did you know that in 2020/21, over 100 hospital admissions involved people who had been injured by fireworks? A staggering 1,362 people were treated in casualty over the period just before, during and after Bonfire Night. What's even more worrying is that more than a quarter of those admissions involved children under the age of 14 years.

Safety on Bonfire Night

This year, the 5th of November falls on a Saturday, and many people will be heading off to local (and some not-so-local) organised events. But plenty of people will also gather together with family and friends for a back garden bonfire. With this in mind, here are our top tips for having a great night whilst keeping your nearest and dearest safe.

Home-based bonfires

Although fireworks are the culprits of many trips to casualty, home bonfires can do as much damage. So, if you're having a bonfire at home this 5th of November, remember:

  1. Don't try to burn any damp or wet material; this creates extra smoke, which, when inhaled, can cause severe breathing problems
  2. Don't burn aerosols, canisters, tyres or anything that contains paint or foam. Not only do they produce toxic fumes, but they could also explode
  3. Don't use paraffin or petrol to light the fire - the bonfire could quickly get out of control
  4. Don't leave the bonfire unattended at any time
  5. Do keep children and pets at a safe distance
  6. Don't throw fireworks into the fire
  7. Don't spray or throw water on the fire to cool it down until the bonfire has almost burnt out; it could cause hot embers to fly around
  8. Do keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose to hand should they be needed in an emergency

If the weather is mild, many people have barbecues or eat food outside and gather around fire pits or outdoor heaters to keep warm. There's always the potential risk of fire in these situations, so it's a good idea to keep a fire blanket handy to put over any small fires.

Ideally, every home should have a fire extinguisher. If you're having a bonfire at home on the 5th of November, then make sure you're prepared and purchase a powder fire extinguisher that can be used on Class A, B and C fires.

Fire prevention

Fireworks at home

Fireworks can be dangerous if not handled properly and should only be lit by adults who have taken all the relevant precautions. Whether it's your first time hosting a fireworks party, or it's been a while since you celebrated due to previous COVID restrictions, here's a reminder of some of the top safety tips to bear in mind on Bonfire Night:

  1. Do buy fireworks that are marked with the BS7114 standard and from licensed sellers.
  2. Do follow the instructions on each firework carefully.
  3. Do keep fireworks in a closed, non-flammable box. Never put them in your pocket or throw them.
  4. Do keep fireworks at arm's length when lighting them. Always use a taper and stand well back. It's a good idea for those handling fireworks to wear a Fire Warden hi-vis vest so that they're easier to spot even in the dark.
  5. Don't go near a firework that you have lit but hasn't gone off; it could be delayed and still explode!
  6. Only light one sparkler at a time and whilst wearing gloves. When they've died out, put them in a bucket of water or sand.
  7. Don't give sparklers to children under the age of 5 years. Always supervise children when handling sparklers and around fireworks.
  8. Don't let fireworks off after 11pm - it's not just unneighbourly, it's actually against the law.

Not everyone likes fireworks

The 5th of November is a time for fun and enjoyment, but bear in mind that not everyone likes fireworks. Hearing loud bangs can be extremely traumatic for some people, such as those with PTSD. So, always let your neighbours know if you plan to have fireworks at any time so they can decide whether they want to stay at home for the duration of your event.

Plus, there are plenty of pets, as well as wildlife, that don't like fireworks or bonfires. In fact, according to the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a captive or domestic animal. So, if you know of any neighbours with pets or there are livestock or horses in fields, barns and stables nearby, it may be better to avoid fireworks. And remember to always check bonfires thoroughly before lighting them, for any hedgehogs which may have taken up residence.

ESE Direct provides a wide range of fire safety products suitable for anyone organising an event on the 5th of November. Our comprehensive range of fire safety signage includes our fire safety poster and fire blanket instructions sign. Our variety of fire extinguisher signs will ensure your Bonfire Night event runs smoothly and safely. However, should someone get injured, always have a first aid kit on hand, preferably one specifically designed for burns, like the Astroplast Burns First Aid Kit.

We also supply industrial and commercial products to businesses, schools, colleges and universities, workshops and warehouses to ensure they have all the necessary equipment they require. So, whether you're hosting an event for a few friends or responsible for an event for a few thousand, make sure you have everything you need to keep guests safe.

Photograph of Debs

Author Bio -

Digital marketer, social media, content writer, musician, sloth-lover, tea-drinker.