keeping kids safe on bonfire night

It’s a time of year that we love. The snap, bang, whizz of the firework rockets, and toasty rosy faces basked in the glow of the bonfire. Kids love Bonfire Night: yet, unfortunately, they can also head in to additional danger. Worryingly, there was an 111% increase in injuries in the lead-up to Bonfire Night 2015. Follow our top tips for keeping kids safe on Bonfire Night, and make it a night to remember for fun and laughter.

Fireworks – Fun not Frivolous

It’s worth noting that Fire Brigades across the country continually urge us to steer clear of home-based displays and only to visit organised ones. There are good reasons for this. For us financially savvy people at Shepherds Friendly, this makes additional sense because you’ll definitely get more bang for your buck at an organised display. When you’re there, make sure you adhere to the safety barriers. For little ones, prepare them in advance with Fireman Sam’s top safety tips.

However, if we can’t deter you from having fireworks at home, do make sure you stick to the Fireworks Code:

• Buy fireworks marked BS 7114 only.
• Never drink alcohol when responsible for fireworks.
• Keep fireworks in a closed and secured box.
• Follow the individual firework instructions carefully.
• Use a taper, and light fireworks from arm’s length.
• Enforce your own viewing area, and stand well back.
• Never return to a lit firework, even if it hasn’t fired.
• Never put fireworks in your pocket, or allow others to, or throw them.
• Supervise children at all times.
• For sparklers, wear gloves and light them one at a time, never giving them to under-5’s.
• Keep pets inside.
• Don’t set off noisy fireworks late at night, and never after 11pm.

Sparkler Savvy

It’s important to consider sparklers in their own right. Misguidedly, we often think sparklers are a must-have for kids on bonfire night. Yet sparklers burn at an eye-watering 1000°C-1600°C. We’re not sure when else we’d be quite so ready to let little ones hold something burning at such a high temperature.

Fortunately there is a dedicated Sparkler Code which you should keep at the front of your mind. There are some specific tips for keeping children and those around them safe:
• Never allow an under-5 to have a sparkler, even if you are holding them or supervising them.
• Always wear gloves.
• Keep a bucket of water nearby to drop extinguished sparklers in, and in case of emergency.
• Stay away from crowds – for example, do not use sparklers at a fireworks display.
• Always supervise older children as they use sparklers.
• Dress yourself and your child appropriately with no loose clothing, or highly flammable costumes, if they are to use a sparkler.

Don’t Forget the Bonfire!

With the focus on fireworks and sparklers we often forget that Bonfire Night is often one of the few experiences children have of seeing such large fires. They can be drawn to the flames much the same as a moth! Watching Guy Fawkes burn is part of our tradition, but we need to ensure the bonfire is safe too – in terms of how it is built, lit, and monitored.

Minimise smoke by only burning dry material. Small children panic easily and smoke can cause them to dash about near the flames. Ensure the bonfire is well away from other flammable objects such as fences, overhanging trees, or sheds. Clearly mark out the border of the bonfire with stones or bricks. Always light the bonfire carefully without the use of paraffin or petrol. As with sparkler safety, keep buckets of water near to hand, or a connected hosepipe. Never leave children unsupervised near the fire.

Make it Fun

Keeping kids safe on Bonfire Night may require you going against the norm. However, when kids realise you can have fun and be safe, you’ll have them creating magical Bonfire Night memories. Use light-up toys, glow sticks, fairy lights, and of course marshmallows on sticks and toffee apples, and you’ll have smiles as bright as the most dazzling rocket without any injuries in sight.