Bonfire night safety

Child lighting sparklerIf you're hosting a Bonfire Night party or just having family fireworks, gen up on the safety drill beforehand, so that it's a memorable night for all the right reasons.

We've got advice on sparkler safety, lighting fireworks, tending bonfires and protecting pets.

Sparklers

A sparkler can reach a temperature of up to 2,000°C ie 20 times the boiling point of water, according to the Child Accident Prevention Trust, so the safety advice is:

  • Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • Don't give sparklers to children under the age of five - they don't properly understand why they can be dangerous
  • Don't hold babies and young children while you're holding a sparkler in case they reach out unexpectedly
  • "The rule with waving sparklers around (courtesy of one of my friends, and for little boys at least) is: no higher than your willy, and always at arm's length." jura
  • Supervise children aged five and over when they're holding sparklers
  • Make sure children are wearing gloves (but be aware that they won't fully protect their hands from burns)
  • Don't let children run around with sparklers or pick spent sparklers up once they've finished
  • Have buckets of water to put spent sparklers in


Firework drill

First things first, the Firework Code.

  • Stand well back
  • Keep pets indoors
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box
  • Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114
  • Light at arm's length, using a taper
  • Follow the instructions on each firework
  • Never give sparklers to a child under five
  • Don't drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
  • Always supervise children around fireworks
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
  • Never go near a firework that has been lit - even if it hasn't gone off it could still explode

Before you buy, check what it says on the box about the fireworks' 'clearance distance' - there's no point in shelling out for rockets that need 30m if your garden is only 10m.

And if you buy fireworks designed for a much larger space, you also risk damaging children's hearing - fireworks can be well over 140 decibels, which is loud enough to cause tinnitus and hearing damage, say hearing charities. 

Mumsnetters' fireworks safety tips:

  • Set the fireworks in firm soil or sand and do not aim them towards other people's gardens or houses. TheDuchessOfCorpseBride
     
  • Tape off the bonfire so people can't get too close. We do fireworks behind this tape, too. sugarplumfairy
     
  • Get different adults to 'be in charge' of different aspects - one overseeing the bonfire, two setting off the fireworks, two in charge of sparklers, someone else in charge of food etc. It's much safer because you don't keep getting distracted away from one task to do another. cat64
     
  • Do not allow any child to creep up the garden to get nearer the fireworks or 'help'. Set them a distance boundary and stick to it (even if it means yelling at other people's kids). TheDuchessOfCorpseBride

  • Consider ear defenders. My son is five and only recently realised that fireworks are pretty - up until then, it turns out, he had been too terrified by the noise to watch. stealthsquiggle

  • Always make sure the firework is the right way up... we had a very impressive explosion that threw half the garden into everyone's face. Apparently I screamed pretty loudly as I ran for cover behind the water butt! NGiaretta

Bonfires

The same rules apply to bonfires as fireworks: keep children at a safe distance. Site your bonfire away from fences, trees and sheds, and, if possible, somewhere sheltered from gusts of wind. 

Once it's lit, don't leave the bonfire unattended and have a bucket of water or hose nearby, in case of emergencies.

Throwing fireworks or sparklers into the fire is a seriously stupid dangerous idea. And once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water to prevent them reigniting.


Protecting pets on Bonfire Night

Pyrotechnics and pets don't go. So if your family pet is frightened of fireworks, see your vet for advice before 5 November.

One Mumsnetter says: "The golden rule is to act normally and to avoid punishing or comforting a frightened pet. Just make them a comfortable, soundproofed den (cupboard under the stairs/old duvet thrown over a space between furniture/bathroom - wherever they'll go willingly), close the curtains and put the telly on."

Visit our Talk Pets board if you need/ can impart more words of wisdom about keeping your family's furry friends safe and calm on 5 November.


First aid

We've got advice on treating burns on our first aid for children page - you need to treat a firework burn as you would a burn from a fire. Obviously, if someone does get burnt and you're unsure of the severity of their injury, administer first aid but get medical expert help.


And finally...

  • Invoke the 'no getting pissed till after the final psst' rule. In other words, you can only get tiddled when all the fireworks have been set off. twentynine 

Last updated: 01-Nov-2013 at 11:19 AM