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Bonfire Safety

Traditionally Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated with food, a bonfire, an array of fireworks and lots of happy and excited children.   It can be one of the most enjoyable evenings of the year but it’s important to realise that bonfire night is also the busiest night of the year for the fire brigade!

The safest way to celebrate is to attend an organised display where both the fireworks and bonfires are tended by experienced and careful adults. However, if you are intent on holding your own celebration then it’s imperative to recognise all of the dangers and take some safety precautions:


  • Never allow anyone to fool around near to a bonfire, particularly children. A fall could lead to serious burns or even death.
  • Bonfires should be built from untreated wood and paper-based materials – never place pressurised or sealed containers on a bonfire because they can and will explode when hot.
  • Choose the location of a bonfire carefully:
    • Smoke must not pose a public nuisance or affect visibility on roads.
    • Sparks, embers or burning debris must not endanger nearby property.
  • Never use flammable liquids to ignite bonfires – use household firelighters or simple paper.
  • Never leave a burning or smouldering bonfire unsupervised – after your celebration make sure it is completely extinguished.


Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 (the British Standard for the safety of fireworks) or the CE marking (showing they conform to European safety standards).

  • Set off the fireworks in an area clear of people – make sure everyone stands well back.
  • Never go back to a lit firework – even if it hasn’t gone off it could still explode.
  • Never throw fireworks.
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket, even spent ones could still be hot and catch alight.
  • All fireworks should be stored in a closed box and taken out one at a time.
  • Never use a naked flame to read the instructions on the back of each firework – use a torch.
  • Always light fireworks at arm’s length using the taper
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you’re going to be responsible for setting off fireworks.


  • Always supervise children around fireworks and never give sparklers to children under five years of age.
  • Show older children how to hold sparklers – away from the body at arm’s length. Teach them not to wave them at other people or run while holding them.
  • Never hold a baby or child if you have a sparkler in your hand.
  • Always plunge finished sparklers hot end down into a bucket of water straight away once they are finished with.

General Advice

  • Never wear or allow children to wear loose or flapping clothing around bonfires or fireworks – they can easily ignite.
  • Make sure that there is a nearby water supply in case your bonfire needs to be dowsed down and keep a bucket of water hand for spent sparklers.
  • Most animals will be frightened by fireworks so it would be advisable to keep them indoors. Consider keeping a radio or TV on to stop nervous dogs panicking at the unusual noise.

In an emergency:

  • Call the emergency services if necessary.
  • Cool any burn or scald with cold water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cut around material sticking to the skin – don’t pull it off.
  • Don’t touch the burn or burst any blisters.
  • Cover the burn with clean, non-fluffy material – cling film is ideal – to prevent infection.
  • If clothing catches fire, get the person to stop, drop to the floor and roll them in heavy material such as a woollen blanket.

It pays to be sensible around a bonfire but be particularly vigilant with fireworks. They may be beautiful and spectacular but it is crucial to remember that they are still incendiary devices and extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.

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