Fawkes Night on November 5th is an ancient tradition originally intended as a celebration of the failure of Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators to blow up Parliament and King James I in particular. Although the history is largely forgotten, taking the opportunity to gather the family round a blazing fire and watch a fire work display is still popular. Fire Safety is paramount and many accidents can be avoided by good preparation and some common sense. Here are some tips to ensure an enjoyable and safe bonfire night.
- First of all consider attending an organised event rather than risking your safety by having a garden bonfire.
- If you do have a home bonfire warn your neighbour’s beforehand as a courtesy or better still invite them to the party, so they are less likely to complain.
- It’s a good idea to wear protective clothing if you are in charge of the fire. Flame retardant Overalls, sturdy boots and flame resistant leather rigger gloves are inexpensive safeguards and are useful the year round.
- Only burn dry material as damp fuel generates more smoke and never burn plastics or car tyres as they can produce highly toxic gases.
- Build your bonfire away from sheds, timber fences, trees and any overhanging cables or telephone wires
- Use firelighters to get the fire going. Petrol and paraffin may flare up and can get out of control quickly
- Use a fire bucket filled with sand to light your fireworks and launch rockets. At the end of the night the sand can be used to smother the fire.
- Have a water fire extinguisher handy or a connected garden hose with a spray attachment nearby in case of emergencies
- Set up a cordon to keep children well away from the bonfire
- Don’t throw any fireworks into the fire even if you believe they are spent
- Sparklers are fun but can be dangerous to small children. Always supervise them and provide a bucket of water to dunk the spent sparklers after use.
Laws governing fireworks
You should also be aware that there are Laws governing the use of fireworks. Breaking these laws can result in fines of up to a £5000 and 3 month imprisonment.
For Bonfire night fireworks can only be sold to adults over 18 years of age and only between the 15th October and the 10th November.
It is an offence to set off fireworks in the street or public places without a licence. If caught the police can give you an on-the-spot fine of £80
Even on Bonfire night and the nights surrounding this date fireworks must not be set off after midnight.
Finally don’t be tempted to buy cheap fireworks from “out of the back of a van” dealers and temporary unlicenced shops. Look for fireworks marked BS 7114 or a “CE” mark that shows the fireworks meet British or European safety standards.
Have a safe bonfire night. If you have any further tips or can recommend good organised events let our readers know.