Bonfire Night is one of the most exciting events of autumn, and watching fireworks can be fun for children and adults alike.
If you’re hosting your own party, it can be a great way to get your family and friends together, but it’s important you observe a few rules to keep you and your home safe.
If you’ve got pets, keep them indoors as they may be scared by the loud noises or bright flashes. Turn on the TV or radio to give them something to listen to and, if possible, get someone to stay with them at all times. Never take your dog outside where the bonfire is, even if it’s on a lead.
Make sure you lock all of your windows and doors, as some thieves may take the opportunity to break in when homes are empty on Bonfire Night, and your insurance may not cover stolen items if your doors were left unlocked. You should also check your home insurance and buildings insurance policy in case of firework or bonfire damage as accidents can happen, even if you plan everything carefully.
Be aware that if you set fireworks off too close to your property or use petrol to light your bonfire, you may not be covered. Check your policy to see if you’ll be covered in the event of any damage by fireworks generally, or if you’ll have to pay if a few stray sparks cause damage to your neighbour’s property.
Sparks will fly
Consider the size of your garden when you’re choosing what fireworks you’re going to get. If your garden is small, make sure you’ll be able to get the minimum distance away from any fireworks you buy. As larger fireworks can have a safety distance of up to 25 metres, you may want to stick with smaller versions at five metres or eight metres or even just sparklers. Once you’ve bought your fireworks, store them safely and securely in a cupboard out of the reach of children.
You can only set fireworks off up to midnight on Bonfire Night, so don’t get caught out by planning anything later than this. If you’re planning on holding a belated Guy Fawkes event on a different day, such as at the weekend, be aware that you can only set fireworks off before 23.00 on other nights.
It sounds obvious but before you set off any fireworks read over the instructions. Each firework can require different methods to set off, so don’t think that once you know how to do one, you know how to do them all. You’ll need a bucket of soft earth to stick fireworks in for launching, and any other supports for Catherine Wheels or larger rockets.
When it comes to lighting fireworks or sparklers, make sure you have a bucket of cold water nearby to throw any used ones in. Dropping sparklers can be very dangerous and a fire-hazard and it can also damage your lawn. You may also need a torch to read the instructions for each firework before you set it off. Make sure that anyone using sparklers is wearing gloves, and watch all children if you’re letting them hold one.
No smoke without fire
Decide where in your garden you want your bonfire site to be. Bonfires should always be at least 18 metres away from your house, any trees, sheds, hedges, or fences. You should also make sure there are controls in place to prevent your bonfire getting too high; otherwise it might get out of hand, and could set your house on fire. You should also be aware that sparks could fly off your bonfire and set your shed or hedges on fire, so it pays to be on your guard at all times while the flames are lit.
Build your bonfire from dry materials, as wet wood will smoke more. Don’t stockpile materials or build it too early, because animals could crawl inside it. Use domestic firelighters to get the blaze going. Even though it might be tempting if you’re struggling to light it, never put petrol or any flammable substance on your bonfire – it’s dangerous, and a sudden wind could quickly spread the fire and potentially put your home in danger.
When your bonfire is lit, be sure it is attended at all times, and have a bucket of water or hosepipe nearby to deal with any emergencies. Once the flames have died out, hose the embers to dampen them, as they could reignite. Organise a clean-up the next day to clear away the ashes of the bonfire and any used fireworks – not only does it look messy but it’s also not good for the health of your lawn if you leave them there.
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