FIREWORKS

Fireworks often play a big part in celebrations like Bonfire Night, Diwali and Chinese New Year.

But users often forget that fireworks are explosives and burn at high temperatures, so they need careful handling and storage.

We recommend that people attend professionally organised fireworks events but, if you do have your own fireworks party, follow these safety tips:

  • don’t buy fireworks from anywhere dodgy, like a van or a temporary, unlicensed market stall
  • only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 or with a CE mark – this shows that the firework meets British or European safety standards (a reputable shop will know this)
  • follow the instructions on each firework – read them in daylight or by torchlight, never by a naked flame
  • make suitable supports and launchers if you’re setting off Catherine wheels or rockets.

Our fireworks safety leaflet will help you plan a successful event.

Things you'll need on the night

  • a closed metal box to store the fireworks – take them out one at a time
  • a bucket of water – to cool sparklers and put out any small fires
  • eye protection and gloves
  • a bucket of earth to stick fireworks in

Lighting fireworks

  •  only one person should be responsible for letting off fireworks
  • don’t drink alcohol if you’re setting off fireworks
  • light fireworks at arm’s length, using a taper
  • make sure everyone stands well back
  • never go back to a firework that has been lit – even if it hasn’t gone off it could still explode without warning
  • never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
  • never throw used fireworks on a bonfire

Sparkler safety

A firefighter holds a sparkler in front of a fire engine

    • supervise children with sparklers and never give them to a child under five
    • light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
    • put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water

Fireworks and the law

Did you know that if you’re under 18 you can’t, buy the types of fireworks which can be sold only to adults nor have fireworks in public places? If you do, the police can give you an on-the-spot fine.

It is against the law to:

      • set off or throw fireworks in the street or other public place
      • set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am – except during certain celebrations.

If found guilty by the courts, you could be fined or jailed.

You can let off fireworks:

      • until midnight on Bonfire Night
      • until 1am on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year

Have a look at GOV.UK for information on dealing with a noise nuisance, or on firework legislation.

Fireworks for private use, and from a registered seller, can only be sold:

      • 15 October to 10 November – around Bonfire Night
      • 26 December to 31 December – for New Year’s Eve
      • three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year.

For the rest of the year, you will only be able to buy fireworks from shops that are licensed to supply them.

If you think a shop is unregistered, or selling fireworks when they shouldn’t, contact your council’s Trading Standards Officer. Your council will also have a list of registered sellers.

Looking after pets and animals

Keep pets indoors – most animals get scared by the lights and noise from fireworks. It is against the law to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal. The penalty can be several months in jail, a hefty fine, or both.

Dealing with burns

Treating burns depends on a number of factors, but early intervention will always reduce the damage to your skin. Stop the burn from spreading as soon as possible by cooling it under cold running water for at least 20 minutes. The NHS website has more information on how to tackle burns and scalds.

Fireworks
A sky lantern floats towards the sky

SKY LANTERNS

Whilst sky lanterns are a popular and beautiful sight, the potential damage they can cause is significant.

They use the heat of a naked flame to float. They’re not only a fire hazard but also a danger to livestock, agriculture, camping activities, thatched properties and hazardous material sites.

Whilst lighting and launch are mostly in the control of the user, the actual flight path and end destination are not. There’s no guarantee that the fuel cell will be completely out and cooled when the lantern eventually lands, and any contact with a flammable surface could result in a fire.

There is evidence of them causing fires, wasting police time, being mistaken for distress flares, misleading aircraft and killing livestock.

We don’t support the use of these devices and we urge members of the public and event organisers not to use them – in 2013 we attended a huge blaze that took 35 fire crews to extinguish!