Bonfire night is a great annual tradition where family and friends get together around a bonfire and firework display. We celebrate bonfire night as a way of remembering the events of November 5th 1605, when a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the king was foiled.
The most famous member of the gunpowder plot, was Guy Fawkes. Making a ‘Guy’ out of scrunched up newspaper and some old clothes, and then throwing him on the fire became a way to commemorate the foiling of this dastardly plot.
Whilst not many people still make a ‘Guy’, a lot of people still host or attend bonfire parties with large open fires and firework displays.
Although fireworks and bonfires are a lot of fun, they can also be dangerous so I’ve gathered some bonfire night safety tips to help you and your family remain safe this year.
Kids love sparklers, and nearly everyone will have fond memories of holding tightly on the end of one, captivated by its fizzling sparkle.
Whilst they are great fun, they can be dangerous if not used correctly. Only children over the age of five should be allowed to use sparklers, and all children should be supervised. Make sure you check the manufacturers instructions on your sparklers before use.
Make sure everyone is wearing gloves, and have a bucket of water or sand at the ready to put out sparklers. When lighting sparklers, hold them at arm’s length, and don’t allow children to wave them about near other people.
If a child does get injured by sparklers or fireworks, seek medical attention immediately.
If an eye injury is sustained, do not touch or rub the affected area, or attempt to flush with water, as this can aggravate the problem. For burns, remove clothing from the affected area and run cold water over it. Contact a medical professional immediately in either case.
Avoid loose clothing
and make sure long
hair is tied back.
Fireworks are exciting to watch and a decent display is the basis of any bonfire night party. If you’re planning a display in your garden, I’d recommend the following tips:
• Always buy fireworks from a reputable seller – supermarkets are usually your best bet, but make sure they have BS 7114 on the box – the British Standard for fireworks available to the public.
• Ensure everyone spectating is at a safe distance from where the fireworks will be set off (5-8metres).
• Read through the instructions on the firework in advance and ensure only one person is in charge of lighting. Make sure this is a responsible adult, who hasn’t been drinking!
• When setting off the fireworks, wear gloves an eye protection, and stand well back. Keep a bucket or two full of water nearby, and never go back to a lit firework, even if it fails to go off.
• Ignite the fireworks from a bucket of soft earth, this protects your ground but also means the fireworks will dispatch correctly.
• Never attempt to make your own fireworks.
• Keep all naked flames such as cigarettes and candles away from fireworks.
• Never allow children to play with fireworks, or pick up pieces of fireworks after a display. There might be a dud firework in amongst the debris which could still go off at any time.
• Don’t put fireworks in your pocket, or point them at people, even as a joke.
Most people won’t have the space in their garden for a bonfire, as it needs to be a safe distance (about 18m) away from houses, trees, hedges, fences and outbuildings. If you do have a garden large enough, then here’s a few tips:
• Before you start building your bonfire, clear the area of any debris and dig a shallow hole. This makes sure that the fire won’t catch and spread along dry grass underneath.
• Never use petrol, paraffin or any other flammable liquids on the bonfire and use domestic firelighters to light the bonfire.
• Build the stack so it is stable and won’t collapse to one side.
• Keep children away from the fire – consider a fence or guard around it. Supervise children at all times near the fire.
• Keep buckets of water and fire extinguishers nearby and pour water over the embers before leaving your bonfire for the night.
Wildlife and Pets
Whilst bonfire night is great fun for us, your pets probably don’t agree.
The loud noises from the fireworks will most likely frighten your pet, so keep them indoors and close all windows and doors. Bring outdoor pets such as rabbits and Guinea pigs inside as well, to protect their hearing. Play the radio or put the television on to mask the noise of the fireworks a little.
If you have a bonfire, please, please, please check it for hedgehogs before lighting it.
November is the time when hedgehogs begin to search for a hibernation homes, and unlit bonfires seem like the ideal spot!
Try not to build your bonfire too far in advance of lighting it. If you do need to, then move the whole thing to a different spot just before lighting to give any little hoglets time to escape.
If you do find a hedgehog sheltering in your bonfire, wear gloves and carefully remove them to a safe dry place away from the bonfire.