Fireworks safety advice
Fireworks are popularly used on Bonfire Night and on New Year’s Eve, but they can pose many dangers if mishandled or misused.
What should I be aware of when staging a firework display at home?
Fireworks cannot be purchased by anyone under the age of 18.
Pets can be easily frightened by fireworks so they should be kept indoors whenever displays are likely to happen; for example the arrival of New Year.
Is there any safety guidance to help me stay safe when using fireworks?
- Don’t drink alcohol when setting off fireworks.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on each firework. Read them by torchlight - never a naked flame.
- Light fireworks at arm’s length, using a safety firework lighter or fuse wick.
- Never go back to a firework once lit – it may go off in your face.
- Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them.
- Keep a bucket of water handy.
- Used fireworks should be collected after the display with care. Douse them with water, dispose of them properly in a metal container.
- Wear a protective hat, gloves and eye protection, such as goggles.
- If your clothing catches fire ‘Stop, drop and roll’.
Keeping safe around bonfires
Please remember bonfires present hazards even before they are lit.
If you must light a bonfire, in connection with a fireworks display, then:
- Site well away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrubs and always away from fireworks.
- Before lighting the fire, check that no pets or children are hiding inside it.
- Build the stack so that it is stable and will not collapse outwards or to one side.
- Never use flammable liquids – paraffin or petrol – to light the fire.
- Don’t burn foam-filled furniture, aerosols, and tins of paint or bottles.
- Keep everyone away from the fire – especially children, who must be supervised all the time.
- For an emergency, keep buckets of water, the garden hose or a fire extinguisher ready.
- Pour water on the embers before leaving.
Keeping safe when using sparklers
Sparklers are often viewed as a more harmless firework, but they still burn fiercely and they're not suitable for children under the age of five years old. In fact, experts say they can get six times as hot as a pan of cooking oil.
If you buy sparklers, store them in a closed box in a cool, dry place. They are fun to use at home, but not suitable to take to a public display, as it’s often too crowded to use them safely.
To enjoy sparklers safely:
- Always wear gloves, preferably leather ones
- Get children to hold the sparkler at arms’ length whilst it’s lit by an adult and always supervise children
- Don’t wave sparklers about near other people, as this could cause an accident
- Hold sparklers at arms’ length
- Don’t run when using a sparkler
- Don’t hold a baby at the same time as holding a sparkler
- When the sparkler has gone out, put it into a basket of cold water
There is further about information about firework safety and the law on the DirectGov website and on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) website.