Despite annual safety warnings, firework celebrations still end in painful injuries for too many people, including very young children. Yet fireworks can be great fun for families, not just around November 5 (Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night), but also Diwali, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year. Injury figures support the advice that the safest place to enjoy fireworks is at a large public display – far fewer people are injured here than at smaller family or private parties. But if you’ll be having a firework party at home, you can make the occasion fun and safe for everyone by following the Firework Code, as well as some sparkler and bonfire safety tips.
The Firework code
Only adults should deal with setting up firework displays, the lighting of fireworks and the safe disposal of fireworks once they have been used (and remember, alcohol and fireworks don’t mix!). Children and young people should be supervised, and watch and enjoy fireworks at a safe distance. Follow these top 10 tips for a safer fireworks party:
- Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and check the time you can legally set off fireworks
- Only buy fireworks which carry the CE or UKCA marks, keep them in a closed box, and use them one at a time
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
- Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit
- Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
- Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
- Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
- Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
Sparklers are often viewed as being harmless but they burn at fierce temperatures, equivalent to a welding torch. Follow these top tips for sparkler safety:
- It is recommended that sparklers are not given to under-5s
- Make sure everyone handling sparklers wears gloves
- Hold sparklers at arm’s length while being lit and light them one at a time
- Don’t wave sparklers about close to other people
- Never hold a baby in your arms while you are holding a sparkler
- When the sparkler has finished put it in a bucket of cold water.
- One person should be responsible for the bonfire and children should be supervised
- Choose a site away from wooden fences, sheds and where children will be playing
- Never pour petrol, paraffin or meths on to a fire – it’s safer to use fire lighters to prevent flare-ups
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of an accident
- Avoid loose clothing and tie back long hair
- After the party, pour water on the fire, rather than leaving it to burn out.
Did you know?
- It is against the law to carry fireworks in public if you’re under 18
- Fireworks must not be sold to anyone who is under 18
- It is an offence to let fireworks off during night hours (11pm to 7am), except on Bonfire Night (midnight), Diwali, New Year’s Eve, and Chinese New Year (1am)
- It is an offence under the Explosives Act 1875 to tamper with or modify fireworks
- If you want to buy, possess and use fireworks (except indoor fireworks and sparklers), in Northern Ireland you must have a valid fireworks licence.
If a child or adult receives a serious burn, call 999 immediately.