Bonfire Night Safety

Fire Service Crest

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service are urging families to think twice about firework displays, but if you do choose to have one please plan and prepare carefully to be as safe as possible. 

Due to the current pandemic and government restrictions on social gatherings, many organised Bonfire Night displays are cancelled this year. This brings the risk of many home organised bonfires and firework celebrations.

Across Cumbria it is against the law to have more than 6 people in your home or garden. In addition, in the Barrow Borough Council area it is against the law to meet other people inside their home, groups of up to 6 are still permitted in gardens.

Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Prevention Committee Neil Odin has shared his concerns around home displays, which could see a rise in the number of incidents and accidents and place pressure on the UK's Fire and Rescue Services and the NHS.

Between 2014 and 2019 there were more than 1,000 severe burn injuries involving fireworks in England and Wales, with 38% of these in youngsters under 15 years of age and the majority (67%) were sustained by males.

Head of Prevention for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service Will Richardson said: "We want everyone to enjoy the bonfire season responsibly and encourage multiple families not to host their own bonfires or events. 

Garden bonfires can easily get out of control. Not only do these pose a serious risk to yourself, your family and the public, but they also take our crews away from other potentially life-threatening incidents.

A great deal of work goes into preparing communities for the bonfire period, in order to clear any potential fuel for deliberate fire setting." 

If you have a safe place to do so and want to celebrate with fireworks in the comfort of your own garden or on other private land (with the landowner's permission), there's nothing to stop you and there's no reason why you can't enjoy a great evening. But remember that both you and your guests will need to take care. 

These tips are to help you think about and prepare for a fun and safe celebration at home.

Plan ahead: 

Fireworks must be stored safely, in a closed box, somewhere cool and dry, out of reach of children and animals, until the time they are needed. Don't keep the box under the stairs or in a passageway.

Do you have a large enough space to let fireworks off safely? Each firework should have a minimum safety distance marked on it. 

Be considerate to your neighbours: warn them beforehand so they can take in their washing, close windows, keep their pets indoors and, if necessary, take other precautions.

Only buy fireworks from reputable dealers. The fireworks should have the product safety marking BS7114 or equivalent and carry a CE mark. 

  • Fireworks must only be handled and lit by responsible adults. 
  • Alcohol and fire don't mix - nor do alcohol and fireworks. 
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box well away from the bonfire or any other sources of heat or fire. 
  • Follow the instructions on each firework. Different fireworks can present different hazards and so the instructions vary. 
  • Use a torch if you read the instructions in the dark - do not use a naked flame. 
  • Let fireworks off one at a time. 
  • Do not throw fireworks - it is highly dangerous. 
  • Light them at arm's length, using a taper. 
  • Never play with fireworks - they are explosives and can hurt you. 
  • When you are watching fireworks, stand well back. 
  • Never go near a firework that has been lit. Even if it hasn't gone off, it could still explode. 
  • Hold sparklers one at a time in gloved hands at arm's length. When the sparkler goes out, it is still very hot so discard it in a bucket of water. 
  • Never leave matches or lighters lying around.
  • We recommend that you do not use sky lanterns as you have no control over them once they've been set off. They can kill animals, litter the countryside and start fires. If you do choose to set them off, always follow the manufacturers' guidance/instructions carefully.

Pick up the spent firework cases - they can still be dangerous. Look for fireworks with a torch. Use tongs or some other suitable tool and wear heatproof gloves. 

Don't allow children to collect firework cases. 

If a firework looks like it hasn't gone off after at least half an hour, soak it in water to prevent it reigniting. 

A bonfire or beacon are great ways to celebrate Bonfire Night and other events, but do follow these safety tips: 

You can't get rid of household waste on the bonfire - it can cause pollution or harm people's health. You should always burn dry material as it produces less smoke. Never burn treated wood, rubber, plastic, foam or paint. 

Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, roads, garden sheds, fences, trees and hedges and, if possible, choose somewhere sheltered from the wind to minimise the risk of the bonfire being blown out of control or smoke restricting the vision of road users. 

Check there are no cables - like telephone wires - above the bonfire. 

Before you light the bonfire, check whether any pets, wildlife or small children have crawled inside. 

Always keep a bucket of water or a working hosepipe nearby.

Never use flammable liquids to start a bonfire and never throw on fireworks or burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries. 

Don't leave bonfires unattended and keep children and pets away. A responsible adult should supervise the bonfire until it has burnt out. 

Once the bonfire has died down, pour water on the embers to stop it reigniting.