Fire service advice for a safe Bonfire Night

Girl with sparkler

Hold sparkers at arms length in gloved hand

“Fireworks can be fun, but can also be dangerous even lethal” is the stark message from Station Manager Ian Wadmore of the community safety team at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The utmost care is necessary in their storage, handling and use, whether you are organising a display for the family, friends or the general public.  Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service want you to have a safe event – by following these simple tips the risks can be greatly reduced.”

Before your firework display
Preparation is key to enjoying fireworks safely, so:

  • don’t buy fireworks from anywhere you’re not sure about, like a van or a temporary, unlicensed market stall
  • only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 or with a CE mark – this shows that the firework meets British or European safety standards (a reputable shop will know this)
  • follow the instructions on each firework – read them in daylight or by torchlight, never by a naked flame
  • make suitable supports and launchers if you’re setting off Catherine wheels or rockets

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Things you will need on the night
It’s easy to get a few household things together, these are:

  • a closed metal box to store the fireworks – take them out one at a time
  • a bucket of water – to cool sparklers and put out any small fires
  • eye protection and gloves
  • a bucket of earth to stick fireworks in

Lighting fireworks
Follow these simple guidelines to stay safe:

  • only one person should be responsible for letting off fireworks
  • don’t drink alcohol if you are setting off fireworks
  • light fireworks at arm’s length, using a taper
  • make sure everyone stands well back
  • never go back to a firework that has been lit – even if it hasn’t gone off it could still explode

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Dud fireworks
Follow this simple guideline to stay safe:

  • Do not approach and leave alone for one hour
  • Then holding at arms length pointed away from you and with a gloved hand, place in a bucket of water overnight
  • Contact the supplier or manufacturer who will advise on safe disposal

Sparklers
Sparklers are fun, but always:

  • supervise children with sparklers and never give them to a child under five
  • light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water

Other tips on the night
Finally, follow these other rules for a safe night:

  • keep pets indoors – most animals get very scared by the lights and noise from fireworks
  • never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
  • never throw spent fireworks on a bonfire
  • take care around bonfires – all clothes, even those labelled ‘low flammability’ – can catch fire

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Building a bonfire
Fire can spread easily, so where and how you build your bonfire is important. If you have a bonfire, follow these simple guidelines:

  • warn your neighbours beforehand – they are much less likely to complain
  • light the bonfire at a time least likely to affect your neighbours – eg not on a warm day when people will be in their garden
  • only burn dry material not damp, which causes more smoke
  • build the bonfire away from sheds, fences and trees
  • check there are no cables – like telephone wires – above the bonfire
  • don’t use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going – it may get out of control quickly

Bonfire safety tips
Once the bonfire is lit, make sure you:

  • keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby – in case of emergencies
  • don’t leave the bonfire unattended
  • keep children and pets away from the bonfire
  • don’t throw any fireworks into the fire
  • don’t burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint – many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode, causing injury
  • Once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water to stop it reigniting.