Traditionally the 5th of November has been known as Guy Fawkes Night; in more modern times, it is known as firework night and bonfire night, and it is synonymous in the UK with Autumn, Halloween, bonfires and sometimes carnivals. It is always recommended that to enjoy fireworks; you should attend a public display conducted by professionals and not have fireworks at home. While it is legal to have fireworks at home, it isn’t always the safest option. If you plan on having some in your garden this year, here are 11 tips for keeping your kids safe this bonfire night.
According to the NHS, between 2018 and 2019, over 2000 people were injured badly enough to require admission to hospital after firework-related incidents. Of these, 21 injuries were to children and young adults under age 14, nine being between one and four years old. NHS England said that over bonfire night and the Hindu festival Diwali period, more than 35,000 people went to NHS.uk for advice on how to treat burns and scalds – a “significant jump” on usual numbers. Injuries were more common at private or family displays where trained first aiders were not on hand to help, NHS England added. Additionally, fireworks start an average of 150 fires yearly.
Fireworks Safety Tips
There have been many calls to ban the sale of fireworks to the public
- Never allow children to handle fireworks
- Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
- Never light them indoors
- Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person
- Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting.
- Never ignite devices in a container.
- Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
- Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
- Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
If you want to experience bonfire night at home but don’t want the stress and danger of fireworks. Consider a firepit, toasting some marshmallows or buying a pack of sparklers (for young children, stick them in a carrot as a longer handle) and enjoying a quiet no-noise celebration. Be aware that sparklers are also dangerous.
Sparklers are Dangerous
Every year, young children are seen with sparklers in hand, waving them around sometimes with limited supervision,n but sparklers are still dangerous and should be taken seriously.
Sparklers burn at about 1,200 degrees and can be quick to ignite clothing, and children have received burns due to touching sparklers at the wrong end, picking them up again after they have finished or dropping them to their feet. We shouldn’t treat sparklers as toys. Sparks can cause burns as well as eye injuries. Half of the firework injuries to children under the age of 5 are caused by sparklers.
For younger children, perhaps consider using safer alternatives, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or coloured streamers. If you have older children mature enough to use sparklers safely, only let them do so under close adult supervision.
Garden and Wildlife Safety Considerations During Fireworks
William Mitchell, a Gardening Expert at Sutton Manor Nursery, says, “When putting on a fireworks display in your garden, it’s important that you take the necessary safety measures to keep everyone safe, including your neighbours. Also, fireworks, sparklers and bonfires can cause havoc on your garden lawn and plants.”
Here are 5 top tips for protecting your garden from fireworks and sparklers.
- Have buckets of water on standby – One of the most common causes of scorched gardens at this time of the year is sparklers being discarded on lawns. To ensure they are completely extinguished, put them directly into a bucket of water after the performance. Following this, they become entirely inert once submerged for about 30 seconds and can be thrown away.
- Use buckets of soft earth – Another great way to avoid damage to your garden is to use buckets. Fill some buckets with soil and place them around your lawn. This way, you can prevent putting fireworks directly into your lawn and making holes and instead place them in the buckets.
- Move any garden furniture – Garden furniture, especially made of plastic, should be put away if you plan to set off fireworks in your garden. There have been many cases where fireworks have sparked a fire and set light on garden furniture.
- Discard rogue rockets – Once your firework display is over, and you’ve waited plenty of time, safely approach the remains of your fireworks and clear your lawn of any that have gone rogue in your garden. Fireworks contain chemicals that can affect your lawn if left there too long.
- Tell your neighbours – If you are planning on setting off fireworks, sparklers or having a bonfire, it’s a good idea to let your neighbours know ahead of time so they, too, can prepare.
If you do choose to host your own firework display at home, please remain vigilant of neighbours, pets, children and surroundings and make sure you consider the directions on the box stating distance away from spectators, how to store them, how to light them and what to do with afterwards—wishing you a safe bonfire night.