It is the loudest, brightest and most exciting time of year – Bonfire Night is here! Here in Glasgow the festivities start today but wherever you are in the country, there will be fireworks and bonfires galore over the next couple of days. It’s a great opportunity to spend some time with friends and get outside to enjoy the wonders of pyrotechnics, sparklers and cosy bonfires.
We want you to remember remember the fifth of November for the right reasons, so here are a few safety tips you should bear in mind.
Fireworks contain gunpowder and can be extremely dangerous, travelling at speeds of up to 150mph – that’s why they shouldn’t be sold to under 18s. It’s advisable to attend a public display where the safety will be checked rigorously and the display will be much more impressive as it will be to a professional standard. But we understand that lots of people have DIY fireworks displays nights so if you, a family member or friend is planning their own, follow these tips:
- Only buy fireworks with the British BS7114 stamp which are for home use
- Store fireworks in a metal box with a lid
- Have a torch ready so that you can read instructions, as they can vary
- Use a bucket of soil to put fireworks in or non flammable solid surface for flat-bottomed ones
- Only buy from reputable dealers. Pop-up shops or market stalls may be run by non-experts which means their products may not meet safety standards
- Make sure there are no flammable materials nearby
- Make sure there is only one person in charge of the display to avoid confusion
- Warn people when you are about to light a firework – surprises can spell disaster
- Ensure you use a taper to light firework. This is a long flammable material which means you can light from a safe distance
- Don’t go back to a lit firework
- Make sure you and others are standing a safe distance away
- Have a bucket on hand to put used fireworks in. Bin them afterwards
- Throwing a firework is a criminal offence and you can be fined up to £5,000 for it
- Letting fireworks off after 11pm is illegal
Sparklers are the BEST! It’s so much fun to hold something so bright and glittery which you can write your name with. Here’s what to watch out for:
- Only hold one at a time – three burning together can produce the same heat as a blowtorch
- Wear gloves to avoid burns
- Don’t hold a child or baby as well as a sparkler
- Don’t give sparkler to small children (under five is the rule of thumb)
- Hold them horizontally and away from your body and face
- Make sure sparklers are extinguished completely by putting them in a bucket of water
- Be extra careful in crowded places as you’re more likely to burn someone
Our fluffy friends HATE fireworks, and with good reason. In the wild, if they hear a loud bang or unusual noise their instinct tells them it could be danger, such as a predator or drastic change in their surroundings. They don’t understand the bangs and booms which makes them very frightened. Here are some tipsto help calm them:
- If you have a dog, take it out for a long walk before dark so it’s tired and not relying on you if you are going out
- Make sure your pet has everything they needfor the evening so they can retreat to a corner if they want
- If they do disappear into a cupboard or take shelter, don’t try and pull them out – this will only scare them more
- Close windows and curtains so they can’t hear explosions and put on the TV or some music as a distraction
- Only build a bonfire in an open space away from sheds, houses and trees
- Warn your neighbours about your plans as the smoke may affect them
- Only use dry materials, damp branches and leaves cause more smoke
- Check it for pets and animals as well as fires and cables before you light it
- DO NOT add petrol, paraffin or aerosol – this may cause it to burn out of control
- DO NOT throw fireworks in the bonfire
- Do not put anything in it which contains foam or paint – this will produce toxic fumes
- Once the bonfire has died down make sure the embers are extinguished with water
- Have a bucket of water on hand just in case
- Keep your distance
- Stay warm! You might be outside for a few hours so wear plenty of layers including a hat, scarf, gloves and cosy shoes. Ear muffs anyone?
- Some conditions such as heart problems, asthma, bronchitis and epilepsy can be aggravated by being outside, smokey conditions or watching fireworks displays so check out the recommendations if you have an illness.
- Consuming alcohol or drugs in situations where you might deal with fireworks may mean your judgement will be skewed and your reaction time will be slower. Always have a sober person in control of fireworks.
What is Bonfire Night all about anyway?
After Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, Catholic people hoped the new King James I would be more tolerant towards them as they had previously suffered persecution under Elizabeth’s rule. He wasn’t, so 13 people decided to take violent action. Led by Robert Catesby, they plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in order to kill the king. They got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder and stowed them in a cellar underneath the House of Lords. However, as the date drew near it became clear that innocent people were going to be hurt and some plotters got cold feet. One sent a letter to alert a lord, warning him to stay away on 5 November. The news reached the king and his forces stopped the conspirators. Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellar by the king’s authorities so he was tortured and executed.
To celebrate the safety of the king and the failure of the plot, people lit bonfires that night, and that’s why it’s called Bonfire Night.