How to have fun and stay safe on Bonfire Night

Fires and fireworks can be fun, but make sure they are also safe!

Every year, local fire services issue safety warnings in the lead-up to Bonfire Night (November 5), but these are often ignored or forgotten on the big day. It’s great to have fun, but make sure you take the necessary precautions to keep family and friends safe and on the right side of the law.

  1. Continue to observe social distancing rules. Some areas will be hosting fireworks displays, but only attend if you can be sure that organisers are taking the rules seriously. Having said that, public displays tend to be safer than private displays, as risk assessments should have been carried out and emergency services may be on hand, so if there is a safe display happening nearby, this may be a good option.
  2. Make sure you know when it’s legal to set fireworks off. It’s illegal between 11pm and 7am on normal nights; after midnight on Bonfire Night; and after 1am on Diwali, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year. Aim to finish your fireworks display by 11pm.
  3. Read the Firework Code if you’re hosting a display at home this year. You may think you know it all, but it can’t help to refresh your mind about key safety rules.
  4. Make sure you’re considerate about pets and small children in households nearby. It might be wise to give neighbours a heads up about your plans.
  5. Make sure there is a barrier in place at a suitable distance to stop people getting too close to the fire or fireworks.
  6. Don’t be tempted to use petrol or paraffin to get your bonfire going. This can be incredibly dangerous and could even lead to loss of life.
  7. Only buy fireworks with the CE mark and keep them in a closed box. Read the instructions for each firework carefully, using a torch if necessary. Light them one at a time, at arm’s length and using a taper, then stand well back. Never return to a firework once it’s lit, even if it doesn’t seem to be working, and never keep fireworks in your pockets.
  8. Don’t allow any naked flames near the fireworks. This includes lit cigarettes. Direct rockets away from those in attendance.
  9. Make sure everyone using sparklers is wearing gloves, and keep them away from babies and small children. Hold sparklers one at a time, and supervise older children at all times. Show children how to hold them properly – firmly and at arm’s length. Make sure sparklers are extinguished in a bucket of cold water as soon as they go out.
  10. Make sure your bonfire is completely extinguished and the area is safe before leaving or going to bed.

Other fun Bonfire Night activities

If you’d rather stay away from fire and loud bangs, there are plenty of other activities you can enjoy as a family. Apple bobbing is an old classic, and can be really fun and messy. You could make bonfire cupcakes or draw a fireworks display with wax crayons, scratching off the black layer to reveal the colours beneath. You could write a poem about fireworks with all their whizzes and bright lights or make chocolate sparklers and dip them into a cup of steaming hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. Search online for more details and further inspiration.