Having a safe Bonfire Night.

The nights are drawing in and there’s a noticeable chill in the air. It’s official, Winter is coming. It may be colder, but there are plenty of exciting things happening in the run-up to Christmas – particularly Bonfire Night.

Remember, remember the 5th of November – but remember it for the right reasons! Bonfire night is one of the most exciting nights of the year for many children, a chance to stay outside after dark and experience a strange and dazzling array of sights and sounds. It is important to remember however that fireworks and bonfires can be dangerous. The Children’s Burns Trust reports that each year over 550 children under 16 are taken to A&E in the four weeks surrounding bonfire night with burn injuries. The majority of these injuries are to the eyes, head or hands, leaving children with visible scars for life. As parents we want to give our little ones the enjoyment of this annual spectacle while minimising the risk, so we’ve compiled a short list of tips and things to remember to ensure your Bonfire Night goes off with the right sort of bang.

Choose your event wisely.

The vast majority of accidents occur at private or family fireworks events. A great way to ensure that your 5th November goes off smoothly is to stick to larger, public displays. Such events will have been through very in-depth risk assessments, with visitor safety as their paramount concern. Your family will be further away from the fireworks themselves – always well in excess of the suggested safe distances specified by the manufacturers, resulting in far fewer incidents than at smaller, garden gatherings. On top of this, there is no way you are going to be able to get close to replicating the majesty of thousands of pounds worth of expertly synchronised fireworks in the back garden!

Find a hill.

Many large fireworks displays will charge an entry fee – something that may be a concern in the current climate. A potential way to enjoy a big display without the worry of cost is to find somewhere to park on a hill overlooking the area, you can then watch away from the crowds, for free! In some areas you may even be able to see more than one display at the same time.

Garden party?

If you really feel the need to have fireworks at home, then safety must an absolute priority. Any injury is bad, but an injury at home that could have been avoided is the worst injury of all. Preparation is key. Ensure that your launching station is placed so that your audience can be at least the required distance away. Your set up needs to have a good, solid method for launching fireworks – stand them in sand or bury tubes to launch rockets into the ground for stability. Make sure rockets are launched away from your spectators and towards open ground wherever possible.

Spare a thought for neighbours, pets and wildlife. Keep your animal indoors – possibly with a TV or radio on to mask the sound from outside. If you are having a bonfire, always check the base of it before lighting as hedgehogs will quite often nest in the shelter of a pile of wood.

Lastly, think back to the firework code – Keep fireworks in a metal tin and away from children, light at arm’s length and never return to a dud firework.

Sparklers.

An integral part of any Bonfire Night is the waving of sparklers, seeing if you can write your name before the glow fades or draw an awesome circle! Many of us see sparkler as harmless fun (which they can be if used correctly) but in fact the tip of a sparkler can reach temperatures 20 times the boiling point of water. There are, thankfully, lots of tips to keep the kids safe around sparklers.

It is recommended that sparklers are not given to under-5s – this may seem mean, but it is this age group that is statistically more likely to be injured by sparklers. To reduce the risk of accidents you could:

  • Start by explaining to children that sparklers are hot. It is also an idea to demonstrate that the glowing part will move closer to them as it burns so that they are forewarned.
  • Make sure everyone is wearing gloves.
  • For younger children, insert the sparkler into a carrot to fashion a heatproof handle.
  • Never hold a baby in your arms when you are holding a sparkler.
  • Make sure children do not wave their sparklers close to anyone else (or themselves).
  • Have a bucket of cold water to cool and collect spent sparklers – they stay hot for longer than you think!
  • Be vigilant.

The Great British weather!

Whether you are indulging in back garden pyrotechnics, or travelling to an organised display, always ensure the kids are dressed appropriately. Public displays are often in large fields that may be muddy underfoot, so wellies and waterproofs are de rigueur for damp, cold evenings. Layer little ones up, if it feels cold when you arrive, just imagine how chilly it might feel if you have to stand around waiting for the fireworks to start. A great tip is a small hot water bottle tucked inside a jacket. Take a torch, as moving across dark patches of land in a crowd can be difficult.

Fireworks can be great fun, oohs and ahhs, flashes and bangs – and potentially a hot chocolate. Make sure you and the children have a great time (whatever you are doing) but please make sure you do it safely.

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