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Bonfire safety (image by theivingjoker @ flickr.com)Bonfires and fireworks safety

Fireworks and bonfire evenings can provide much entertainment so long as everyone follows the right safety procedures and remembers that fireworks can be dangerous if misused.

People should bear in mind that a simple sparkler can burn up to a temperature of 2000 degrees centigrade, so they should never be given to children under the age of five.

By far the safest way to enjoy these seasonal activities is to attend a professionally organised event, however If you are having your own celebration use common sense and follow some simple safety tips to help you and your loved ones avoid injuries or damage to your property.

Remember that all fireworks should be purchased from reputable suppliers only.  It is an offence under firework legislation for anyone under 18 to possess fireworks in public places and an offence for anyone other than a firework professional to possess professional display fireworks.

It is also illegal to set fireworks off between 11pm and 7am except in the following cases:

  • Bonfire Night - 5 November – until midnight
  • Diwali (5 November 2010) - 1am on the following day
  • New Year’s Eve – 1am on the following day
  • Chinese New Year – 1am on the following day

Bonfire safety tips:

  • Never use flammable liquids to help start a bonfire and never burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries.
  • Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences, hedges and overhanging branches.
  • Keep bonfires to a manageable size and evenly built so that they collapse inwards as they burn.
  • Always check the bonfire’s construction is still sound prior to lighting it, that there are no children or animals inside and that hazardous items such as aerosols and fireworks have not been thrown onto it.
  • Bonfires should be lit after the firework display unless positioned sufficiently far away to ensure stray sparks from the bonfire cannot fall into the firework area.
  • Don’t leave bonfires unattended.  An adult should supervise it until it has burnt out.  If it has to be left, damp it down with water.
  • Keep a bucket of water or horsepipe nearby in case of emergency.
  • Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.

Firework safety tips:

  • Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable.
  • Only buy fireworks marked with British Standard Kitemark BS 7114.
  • Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
  • Keep fireworks in a closed metal box and take them out one at a time.
  • Always follow the instructions carefully when using them. Read them in daylight or by torchlight, never by a naked flame.
  • Light the firework at arms length with a taper and stand well back.
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
  • Never go back to fireworks once they are lit.  Even if it hasn’t gone off, it could still explode.
  • Never throw fireworks and don’t put them in your pocket.                                                                                                                                                      
  • Always supervise children around fireworks and never give sparklers to children under five.  Even when they have gone out they are still hot so put them in a bucket of water after use.
  • Respect your neighbours – don’t let off fireworks late at night.
  • Keep your pets indoors throughout the evening with the curtains closed.

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