There’s nothing like the sound of those appreciative ‘ooooos’ and ‘aaaaaahs’ when fireworks fill the skies - but you won’t want these to turn into screams if something goes wrong.
The key to a successful bonfire and firework party is to use common sense and make sure everything is as safe as possible. Here are our tips on how to host a sparkling event, whether it’s this weekend, next weekend or on the day itself…
Building your bonfire
If you’re having a bonfire in your garden, you’ll need to pick a good site.
Choose an area away from any overhanging trees or near any other plants, and that’s not too close to your neighbour’s fence.
And make sure the fire’s positioned a long way from any fireworks, so stray sparks can’t set them off (more on firework safety below).
Follow these steps to build the perfect fire:
- Dig out a shallow circle of turf or soil a couple of feet wider than you plan your fire to be
- Surround it with stones or bricks to mark the boundary of the fire
- Use charcoal briquettes in the middle of the fire and surround this with a tee-pee shape of sticks, bark and leaves. Make sure these are all dry
- You can then add bigger sticks and logs, again in a tee-pee structure
- It may help to tie the sticks together at the top, to stop the tee-pee collapsing before the fire is lit
- If you build in advance, have a quick check before lighting for any animals that might be sheltering within the structure
- Use a match to light the kindling
- NEVER use petrol or other accelerant to get your fire started
- Keep a bucket of water and/or your garden hose nearby in case of emergency
- Make sure your fire is properly out before leaving it.
Fireworks can be brilliant fun, but the last thing you’ll want is for anyone to be hurt or injured.
You can dramatically reduce the odds of this happening by following these guidelines:
- Only buy fireworks that are marked with the British Standard Kitemark BS 7114
- Keep them in a closed metal box until you need them – and remove them one at a time
- Always read the instructions carefully and retreat quickly once you’ve lit the firework
- NEVER go back to a firework once its lit, even if it hasn’t worked. NEVER EVER
- Always keep a close eye on children and don’t give sparklers to kids under the age of five. Have a bucket of water to put the sparklers in once they’ve gone out
- Remember it’s illegal to set off fireworks after 11pm, except on November 5 when you can do it until midnight, or on New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year or Diwali, when you can set them off until 1am.
Spare a thought for pets!
Fireworks might be fun for you and your mates, but they can be terrifying for your four-legged (or two-winged) friends.
Keep pets inside and well away from fireworks, and bring in any small pets that are normally kept outside. It might be a good idea to turn on the radio or some music to help drown out some of the loudest bangs.
You should also make sure you’ve got pet insurance in place, so that vet fees will be covered if they get hurt.
Kevin Pratt, home insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket said: "In the fun of firework season it is important for pet owners to make sure they have protected their pets from the potential dangers of this time of year.
“Fireworks can cause distress, disorientation and panic, which can in turn lead to accidents and animals going astray. Insuring your pet at least gives you the peace of mind of knowing you will be covered for potential costs if they come into harm's way."
Beware bonfire night burglars!
If you’re going out to a party, make sure you lock up your property carefully before you go. According to 10 years of claims data from insurer Aviva, 22% more thefts are reported on Bonfire Night compared to the average day.
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