Fireworks and bonfires safety advice

Have a safe bonfire night by following some simple guidance and advice. You can also learn the Fireworks Code - all so you can have the safest and best Bonfire Night possible.

For additional information, download bonfire night safety's safety and advice leaflet for more hints and tips about how to stay safe. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service also has a webpage dedicate to the safe use of fireworks and bonfires.

Safety advice

Fireworks

Fireworks safety

Before your firework display

  • Check the fireworks you buy are suitable for the size of the garden and conform to British Standards (BS 7114; 1988)
  • Ensure your display area is free from hazards
  • Do not tamper with fireworks
  • Read the instructions in daylight
  • Warn neighbours, especially the elderly and those with animals, about your display
  • One person - clearly identified - should be responsible for firework.

Firework safety: ensure you have the following:

  • Metal box with a lid for storage of fireworks
  • Torch for checking instructions
  • Bucket of water
  • Protective hat, eye protection and gloves
  • First aid kit
  • Bucket of soft earth to stick fireworks in
  • A board for flat-bottomed fireworks
  • Suitable supports for Catherine wheels
  • Proper launchers for rocket.

Safety during the firework display

  • Light fireworks at arm's length with a taper
  • Stand well back
  • Never go back to a lit firework
  • Keep storage box closed between uses
  • Keep children under control
  • Never put a firework in your pocket - it is very dangerous
  • Throwing a firework is dangerous and illegal. It's a criminal offence to do so in a street or other public place, with a maximum penalty of a £5,000 fine.

Safety after the firework display

  • Use tongs or gloves to collect spent fireworks
  • Next morning, check again and remove firework debris.

The Fireworks Code

The Fireworks Code

  1. Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable.
  2. Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time.
  3. Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary.
  4. Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back.
  5. Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
  6. Never return to a firework once it has been lit.
  7. Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them.
  8. Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
  9. Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire.
  10. Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.

Sparklers

Sparklers

A simple sparkler reaches a temperature of up to 2,000°C - over 15 times the boiling point of water and should be handled with care. To ensure you, your family and friends remain safe when using sparklers, follow the advice below.

Store sparklers and other fireworks in a closed box in a cool, dry place. Always light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves. Never hold a baby or child if you have a sparkler in your hand. Plunge finished sparklers hot end down into a bucket of water as soon as they have burnt out. They can stay hot for a long time. Don't take sparklers to public displays. It will be too crowded to use them safely.

Never give sparklers to the under 5s - they will not understand how to use them safely. Always supervise children using sparklers. Give children gloves to wear when holding sparklers. Avoid dressing children in loose or flowing clothes - they may catch light. Show children how to hold sparklers - away from their body and at arm's length. Teach children not to wave sparklers near anyone else or run while holding them.

Sparkler safety in an emergency

  • Keep calm. You can't help if you're panicking.
  • Cool the burn or scald with cold water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Never rub butter, oil or ointment into a burn.
  • Cut around material sticking to the skin - don't pull it off.
  • Take off any tight belts or jewellery that the injured person is wearing as burned skin can swell.
  • Don't touch the burn or burst any blisters.
  • Cover the burn with clean, smooth, non-fluffy material (like a pillowcase or clingfilm), to keep out infection until it can be properly dressed.
  • If clothing catches fire, get the person to stop, drop to the floor and roll them in heavy material like a curtain.
  • Unless the burn is very small, go to hospital.
  • If the burn is very serious, or the person is (or was) unconscious, dial 999
  • Don't give a seriously burned person anything to eat or drink after the accident, in case there's a need for anaesthetic at the hospital.

Bonfires

Bonfire Safety

Do you really need a bonfire? It is much better to manage without one. If you must have a bonfire, ensure you follow these points:

  • Organise it properly
  • Should be at least 18 metres (60 feet) away from houses, trees, hedges, fences or sheds
  • Before lighting, check for animals and children
  • Use domestic firelighters
  • Never use petrol, paraffin or other flammable liquids
  • Never put used fireworks, aerosols, foam-filled furniture, batteries, tins of paint or tyres on a bonfire.

Pet safety

Pet safety

Pets hate bangs and flashes and get very frightened on fireworks night. So keep all your pets indoors and close all the curtains to make things calmer. Remember it's not just your own fireworks that cause distress, so you may need to have your pets indoors on several nights when other displays are taking place.

Protect your pet when fireworks are around by following the RSPCA's animal-friendly firework code.

Dogs bonfire night safety

  • Exercise your dog during the day.
  • Never walk your dog while fireworks are being let off.
  • As with cats, keep your dog indoors, close the curtains and play music or turn on the television to drown out the noise.
  • Let your dog hide if it wants to take refuge under furniture or in a corner.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and tag and is microchipped in case it bolts and becomes lost.

Cats bonfire night safety

  • Keep your cat indoors.
  • Close all windows and curtains and switch on music or the television to drown out the noise.
  • Leave your cat to take refuge in a corner if it wishes. Do not try to tempt it out as this could cause more stress.
  • Make sure your cat is microchipped to ensure it can be returned to you if it escapes and becomes lost.

For more information on ensuring your pets have a safe time during the bonfire night period, please visit the RSPCA fireworks website.

Penalties

Under section 1 of the Protection of Animals Act 1911, it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animals. The penalty on conviction is a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months' imprisonment, or both. Enforcement of this section of the Act rests with Trading Standards, the Police or the RSPCA as appropriate.