Tonight is the night the skies across the country light up with the colourful explosions of fireworks, family and friends stand around the heat of a bonfire eating toffee and everyone has a go at writing their name with a sparkler.
Did you know, the first recorded fireworks in England were at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486? From then they gained so much popularity that by the Elizabethan times (1558 – 1603) Queen Elizabeth I had created the post of Fireworks Master to oversee all fireworks displays for great occasions. Although England have a great love of fireworks every Bonfire Night, the record for the single biggest firework is still held by China. At a festival in 1988 a firework was set off that had a shell weighing over half a tonne, and when it exploded the burst spanned over a kilometre!
It can be a wonderful night of the year, but remember that with all these exposed flames it is important to keep yourself and those around you safe.
Here are a list of some top Bonfire Night safety tips to follow at your celebrations:
- Plan your fireworks display to make it safe and enjoyable. Ensure you have the right protective clothing on and are in an open area away from trees and buildings.
- Keep your pets indoors to keep them safe and protect them from being spooked by the loud noises.
- Make sure your fireworks are to British Standard and have the appropriate safety standard indications such as BS 7114 approval.
- Read the instructions on each firework and only light one at a time. Be sure to keep the fireworks at arm’s length and pointed away from your spectators.
- Stand well back from the fireworks once they have been lit. Do not return to the lit firework, even if it has not gone off, as it could still explode.
- Never throw fireworks, not only is it extremely dangerous, it is also illegal. Throwing fireworks in the street or public space is a criminal offence and can incur a maximum penalty of a £5000 fine.
- Check bonfires are at a safe distance and never light using paraffin or petrol. Make sure the fire is out and the surroundings have been made safe before leaving at the end of the night.
- Do not give sparklers to children under 5 years old and always supervise children when using sparklers.
- Always wear gloves when using sparklers and keep them at arm’s length. Do not touch the end of the sparkler, even long after it has gone out.
- Light sparklers one at a time – three sparklers burning together give off the same heat as a blow torch!
- Extinguish all sparklers, fireworks and bonfires properly and keep emergency extinguishers on hand.
Although having a fire extinguisher at these events is encouraged, it is important to know what kind to use. A list of the types of fire extinguishers available and their appropriate uses can be found in our previous Fire Extinguisher Blog, but the clear answer to what is best for Bonfire Night is WATER.
Water extinguishers are used for solid fires, for example wood, furniture and paper. Using a carbon dioxide extinguishers, as some other online sources suggest, is a very BAD IDEA and could result in making the fire worse as the gas could cause debris to disperse, spreading the fire.
As water is the most effective safety measure for bonfires and fireworks, many people ask, “Would a bucket of water do?” Not to put us out of a job, but this is a suitable alternative for small, home bonfires. Make sure you have plenty of buckets of water on hand to keep your bonfire under control and to safely dispose of sparklers.
For more safety information, there is a great website dedicated to Bonfire Night Safety full of tips and facts – http://www.bonfire-night-safety.co.uk/